Harper Uses Handshake to Tell Putin to ‘Get Out of Ukraine’

Russian President Vladimir Putin got a blunt message when he approached Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper for a handshake at today’s Group of 20 summit in Brisbane, Australia.

“I guess I’ll shake your hand but I have only one thing to say to you: you need to get out of Ukraine,” Harper told Putin, the prime minister’s spokesman Jason MacDonald said in an e-mail.

Putin’s response to the comment wasn’t positive, MacDonald said, without elaborating. Putin and Harper talked briefly, according to Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov.

“Indeed Harper told Putin that Russia should leave Ukraine,” Peskov said by phone today in Brisbane. “Putin told him that this is impossible because they are not there.”

Asked about the tone of the meeting between the two leaders, Peskov said “it was within the bounds of decency.”

The crisis in Ukraine threatens to overshadow the two-day G-20 summit, where European leaders today called on Russia to stop supplying rebels in eastern Ukraine and warned of possible further sanctions. The summit’s host, Prime Minister Tony Abbott, has accused Russia of supplying the weapons used to shoot down Malaysian Airline System Bhd. Flight 17 over Ukraine in July, killing all 298 people on board.

Putin and Abbott smiled, spoke and shook hands for the cameras as the summit got underway.

Russia, which annexed Crimea from Ukraine in March, has repeatedly denied that it’s sending its armed forces into Ukraine or aiding the separatists.

“There is no aggression” on Russia’s part, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told reporters today in Brisbane.

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