Moscow says it reserves the right to respond to Ottawa's stated goal of toppling the Russian government
The Russian Foreign Ministry has summoned Canada's top diplomat in Moscow to lodge a formal complaint, after the Canadian foreign minister made "inadmissible remarks" earlier this month.
Melanie Joly told a news conference on March 10 that Ottawa was seeking "potential regime change in Russia." Members of the cabinet are "seeing potential" for that outcome thanks to their efforts to isolate "the Russian regime" economically, politically and diplomatically, she stated.
The Canadian charge d'affaires in Moscow, Brian Ebel, was summoned on March 20 and issued with a formal protest over the remarks, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Tuesday. Moscow believes the comments to be "inadmissible and at variance with Canada's obligations under the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations."
Joly's words were the "latest Russophobic attack" by a Canadian official, which the government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has failed to disavow, the ministry said. It warned of a serious impact on bilateral relations, adding that Moscow reserves the right to "take relevant countermeasures depending on the further steps of the ruling Trudeau regime in the context of its declared course of confrontation with Russia".
Joly made the "regime change" remark soon after Ottawa announced the latest round of anti-Russia economic sanctions, which included restrictions on trade in steel and aluminum. She later doubled down on using that term, claiming she always made a distinction "between the regime and the people of a given country."
Canada has joined the US in its campaign to cripple the Russian economy through sanctions, which have been ratcheted up since hostilities broke out in Ukraine last year. Moscow considers the measures to be part of a proxy war against it, waged by Western nations.