OTTAWA - Russia on Monday slapped an entry ban on 13 Canadian lawmakers and officials, including Commons Speaker Andrew Scheer and government House leader Peter Van Loan, in retaliation for Canadian sanctions over Ukraine.
Russia's Foreign Ministry called the move a response to Canadian travel bans and economic sanctions imposed earlier on a number of Russian officials — "unacceptable action by the Canadian side that has inflicted serious damage to bilateral relations," the ministry said in a statement.
The move follows Canada's decision to act in unison with the U.S. to introduce sanctions targeting members of Russian President Vladimir Putin's entourage following Russia's annexation of Ukraine's Crimea region.
"Canadian officials named today by Russia aren't oligarchs or threatening to annex parts of peaceful neighbours by military force," the Department of Foreign Affairs said in a statement responding to the move.
Speaking from The Hague, where he is attending a nuclear security summit with Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird echoed Liberal MP Irwin Cotler in describing the sanctions as a "badge of honour."
"Any country who thinks that in the 21th century you can simply rewrite the borders of Europe is wrong, and it's of deep concern," Baird said.
"None of the people listed today are threatening the territorial integrity or sovereignty of the Russian Federation. I think it also says we've certainly got the attention of those in the Kremlin."
Russian retaliation was bound to come, said NDP Leader Tom Mulcair.
"It's a sign that we are heading into an era of much chillier relations, but it was predictable and frankly, if that's the price to pay to start sending a message to Putin, so be it."
In addition to Scheer, Van Loan and Cotler, the Russians also banned Tory MPs Ted Opitz, James Bezan and Dean Allison, Liberal MP Chrystia Freeland and NDP MP Paul Dewar.
Also named are Wayne Wouters, the clerk of the privy council; Jean-Francois Tremblay, deputy secretary to the cabinet; and Christine Hogan, assistant secretary to the cabinet.
Sen. Raynell Andreychuk, a Conservative senator from Saskatchewan, is also on the list, along with Paul Grod, national president of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress.
Cotler said he considers it an honour to be on the list.
"I wear my exclusion from Russia as a badge of honour and am proud to be in such distinguished company," he said in a statement.
Cotler said he was first banned from Russia 35 years ago for his efforts on behalf of Soviet-era dissidents.
The Russians say the Canadian sanctions are unacceptable and have inflicted serious damage on relations between the two countries.
The Russian Foreign Ministry said Russia remains open to "constructive" co-operation with Canada, but added that "we don't need such co-operation more than Ottawa does."
— With files from The Associated Press
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