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A Ukrainian flag flies in front of the Peace Tower on Parliament Hilll in Ottawa, March 4, 2014.CHRIS WATTIE/Reuters

The blue-and-yellow flag of Ukraine has been hoisted on Canada's Parliament Hill as the federal government shows support for the beleaguered Eastern European nation.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper's Twitter account says that the ensign is being "proudly flown … to demonstrate our solidarity with [the] people of Ukraine." The Conservative government had asked the Speaker of the Commons to fly the flag, a spokesman said.

The symbolic measure follows a vote Monday in Canada's House of Commons where MPs unanimously backed a motion condemning Russia's military intervention in Ukraine and calling on Moscow to withdraw its forces.

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, in his first comments since Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych quit Kiev in February, defended his right to protect Russian people in Ukraine.

"There can be only one assessment of what happened in Kiev, in Ukraine in general," Mr. Putin told reporters at his residence outside Moscow. "This was an unconstitutional coup and the armed seizure of power. No one argues with this. Who can argue with it?" the Russian leader told med "This is the last resort. We believe, have believed and will believe, that Ukraine is not only our closest neighbour but a brotherly republic."

With files from the Associated Press

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