Russian Ambassador to Canada Georgiy Mamedov gestures during a briefing in Ottawa, March 30, 2009. Fred Chartrand/Canadian Press
Georgiy Mamedov, Russia's ambassador to Canada, shrugged off the latest sanctions announced by Prime Minister Stephen Harper against Russian and Ukrainian officials over the crisis in Ukraine.
"I have lived through such sanctions before. They never lead to anything. They just postponed inevitable diplomatic and political solutions," Mamedov told reporters during a news conference in Ottawa on Tuesday.
Harper announced on Monday further economic sanctions and travel bans against 10 Russian and Ukrainian individuals in the wake of Sunday's referendum in Crimea.
Mamedov mocked these and other sanctions announced by the U.S., saying they would have no impact.
"I don't think … that these people really have some outstanding assets or will die from grief because they won't get visas to visit United States or Canada," Mamedov said.
The Russian ambassador said he didn't expect further sanctions, but if they came, Russia would survive those too.
"I feel quite confident that we come to a compromise. I don't expect any escalation of sanctions, but even in the worst case scenario, I shall assure that we will not only survive but prosper, given our diversified economic ties with other countries in the world."
Mamedov said there was "jubilation" in the streets of Crimea following Sunday's referendum. "My son yesterday returned from Crimea, I trust him, he was telling me that there's a jubilation there," Mamedov said.
He denied that Russia "invaded or occupied" Crimea saying that "people there want to return back home."
"We all want stability and prosperity of Ukraine. You want it from an ideological and geopolitical standpoint. We want it from a historical standpoint," Mamedov said.
He spoke of the ties that bind Russians and Ukrainians saying the goal was to "restore stability so that Ukraine can happily live in integration with the European Union and at the same time restore its traditional cultural and other ties with Russia."
Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a treaty earlier on Tuesday to annex Crimea, describing the move as correcting past injustice and a necessary response to what he called Western encroachment upon Russia's vital interests.
Putin said, in an emotional 40-minute speech: "In people's hearts and minds, Crimea has always been an integral part of Russia."
Brian Stewart, a distinguished senior fellow at the Munk School of Global Affairs, said Putin saw an "opportunistic situation" and is now engaged in a game of "diplomatic chicken."
"What he'll do is put maximum pressure on Ukraine to give up the dream of joining with the West and the European Union and become much more friendly towards Moscow," he said in an interview on CBC News Network on Tuesday.
Stabbing politically motivated?
Mamedov also told reporters that Canadian authorities tried to "persuade" him that an attack against Andrey Gorobets, a Russian diplomat last week, wasn't politically motivated.
"I received a call by your authorities, who asked me to convey to Moscow that it has nothing to do with all this tension," Mamedov said.
Kevin Martin, a Canadian Force reservist, is out on bail after an appearance in court on Monday. Martin, 32, was charged with aggravated assault.
Mamdov said Gorobets is recovering in a Russian hospital.
"Thank god he is in a Moscow hospital right now, recovering from his many wounds."
The Russian ambassador said he did not know what the motive behind the attack was, but that his job was to protect his staff.
Mamedov indicated his diplomat would not be returning to Canada.
"I will not risk his life twice," Mamedov said.
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