OTTAWA, March 07. /ITAR-TASS/. Canada has expelled nine Russian soldiers that are currently in the country in the framework of bilateral exchange between military departments of the two countries, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said. Harper explained that the soldiers were informed on Thursday afternoon and given 24 hours to leave Canada.
Six Russian soldiers were studying English and French in Saint-John (Quebec), two soldiers were training at an army base in Gagetown (New Brunswick), and one soldier was teaching Russian in Gatineau (Quebec).
On Thursday, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced that because of the events in Ukraine he had ordered to suspend all bilateral contacts between Canadian and Russian armed forces, saying it applied to drills, including the Vigilant Eagle exercises, and planned meetings.
The Russian-US-Canadian exercises Vigilant Eagle are held annually by air forces of Russia and the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) since 2009.
On March 5, Harper announced that due to the events in Ukraine he ordered Canadian military forces to halt bilateral contacts with Russian counterparts. Ottawa also temporarily stopped participation in the Inter-governmental Economic Commission, which focused on developing the economic relations between the coutnries.
On March 2, Canada’s Prime Minister Harper said that Russia’s actions are a violation of sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine. Canada halted preparations for the G8 summit in Sochi and recalled its Ambassador from Moscow for consultations over the situation around Ukraine.