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Canadian PM Stephen Harper Just Showed Tony Abbott How To Shirtfront The Russian President

Australia’s Prime Minister Tony Abbott greets Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper in the Reading Room at Parliament House during the G20 Leaders’ Summit. Photo: Steve Christo/ G20 Australia via Getty.

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has confronted Vladimir Putin over Russia’s military involvement in eastern Ukraine – something Australian Prime Minister threatened to do, but was widely seen to have squibbed.

Today at the official greetings before the G20 Summit in Brisbane, Harper was approached by the Russian president and reluctantly shook his hand before confronting him over Russia’s military presence in Ukraine.

Jason MacDonald, Harper’s spokesman, told reporters that when Putin offered his hand Harper said:

“Well, I guess I’ll shake your hand, but I only have one thing to say to you: you need to get out of Ukraine.”


While MacDonald wouldn’t speak further on the incident he did say “Putin did not respond positively”.

Abbott had previously said he wanted to “shirtfront” – a term for a physical confrontation in Australian rules football – the Russian president over the MH17 plane crash. He later had a direct a 15-minute meeting with Russian President at the APEC leaders’ summit in Beijing, but it was not a hostile encounter.

Abbott did tell Putin Australia was in possession of intelligence indicating a missile from a launcher that had come out of Russia was fired from inside Eastern Ukraine, taking down MH17, and then returned to Russia.

298 people died in the MH17 disaster including 38 Australian citizens and residents. One Canadian citizen was killed.

Harper’s “shirtfront” follows news that Russia has released satellite images which appear to show the Malaysia Airlines MH17 aircraft being shot down by a Ukrainian fighter jet. There’s more on that here.

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