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Baird brushes off Ukrainian referendum results

A dog waits for a woman to complete a form for the referendum on the status of Donetsk region at a polling station in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk, May 11, 2014. Separatist rebels pressed ahead with a referendum on self-rule in east Ukraine on Sunday and fighting flared anew in a conflict that looked set to dismember the country and pitch Russia and the West into a new Cold War.


Canada's Foreign Affairs Minister has dismissed the legitimacy of two pro-Russian sovereignty referendums in eastern Ukraine saying they will serve only to foment division.

"Canada fully rejects the so-called referendums staged today in parts of eastern Ukraine," John Baird said in a statement on Sunday. "These votes are a farce and constitute another attempt by pro-Russian separatists to incite violence and further divide the country."

The only legitimate vote will be on May 25 when Ukraine will hold a nationwide presidential election, said Mr. Baird.

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That is when "real democratic action will be at play as Ukrainians take to the polls to call for a stable, prosperous, united future," he said. "Canada will be there to support the people of Ukraine as they chart this new course in their history."

The Conservative government has been loudly supportive of the Ukrainian government's fight to hold its country together in the face of protests by pro-Russian insurgents and votes like those held held Sunday.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper was the the first G7 leader to visit Ukraine after Russian President Vladimir Putin moved to make the Ukrainian region of Crimea a part of Russia.

Canada has sent six CF-18 fighter jets to the area, a naval frigate and 600 military personnel to Eastern Europe. It has also agreed to contribute $220-million in financial aid to Ukraine, has imposed numerous sanctions against Russian officials, and is deploying a team of observers to help oversee the presidential elections.

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