Harper rejects Crimean referendum

Daniel Proussalidis, National Bureau

, Last Updated: 5:16 PM ET

OTTAWA - Prime Minister Stephen Harper rejects the parliament of Crimea's coming referendum on joining Russia.

"Russia's invasion of Ukraine is an act of aggression, a clear violation of Ukraine's sovereignty, and of international law," Harper said in a statement Thursday. "Canada will not recognize a referendum held in a region currently under illegal military occupation."

Crimea's parliament voted Thursday to join Russia.

Its Moscow-backed government also scheduled a referendum on the decision for March 16, escalating an already tense situation in the Ukrainian Black Sea peninsula.

Harper's latest comments come a day after the government suspended participation in the Canada-Russia Intergovernmental Economic Commission and dispatched two military observers to help a European military team keep an eye on the Crimean peninsula.

The feds have also moved to freeze any assets in Canada belonging to members of ousted Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovich's regime.

Russia has been massing military forces in Crimea, claiming the local population needs its protection.


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