Harper to visit Ukraine next week

Prime Minister Stephen Harper will briefly visit Ukraine next week during a European trip, the first G7 leader to do so.

Harper is travelling to the Netherlands for the Nuclear Security Summit, from March 24-25 in The Hague. While in Europe, he'll fly to Kyiv on March 22 to meet with Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk.

Harper will arrive in the days following this Sunday's hastily called referendum in Crimea, a Ukrainian region now under control of pro-Russia politicians and militias.

The vote will offer Crimeans two options: to join Russia or an independent Crimea. Remaining part of Ukraine is not an option.

Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird says Canada won't recognize the outcome of the referendum.

Harper is also to visit Germany for two days following his time in the Hague, where he will meet with Angela Merkel, chancellor of Germany, and Joachim Gauck, president of Germany.

Canada announced earlier this week it was contributing $220 million to an international effort to bail out the government of Ukraine.

Last week, the European Union proposed a $15-billion aid package, and the U.S. committed $1 billion. The new government in Kyiv has said it needs $35 billion for this year and next.

Yatsenyuk told the United Nations Security Council on Thursday that Russia is carrying out a "military aggression'' that has "no reason and no grounds.''

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met with Russia's foreign minister on Friday in an 11th hour bid to ease tensions, but Sergey Lavrov emerged from the meeting to say the Russians and the West have "no common vision'' on the events in Ukraine.

He added, however, that Russia has no plans to invade eastern or southern Ukraine despite an ongoing military buildup.

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