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Putin's Cold War mindset

Prime Minister Stephen Harper warned Germans about Russia on Wednesday, reminding them of the danger posed by a leader with a Cold War mentality who has brazenly seized territory from a neighbour.

"As unfortunate as it sounds, it's increasingly apparent to me that the Cold War has never left Vladimir Putin's mind; I think he still thinks in those terms," Harper said during a question-and-answer session with the Bavarian Business Association in southern Germany.

"We simply, as a world, cannot afford the risk of Europe going back to being a continent where people seize territory, where they make claims on neighbouring countries, where the bigger military powers are prepared to invade their neighbours or carve off pieces."

On the eve of his meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Harper suggested Germans know this better than anyone.

"This is a world we cannot go back to — I know the feeling about that in Germany particularly. We cannot go back to this. It represents an enormous long-term threat to peace and security."

The prime minister met German business leaders to extol Canada's economic virtues, but even in a corporate setting, the ominous events of eastern Europe were a key topic of discussion.

Harper was asked about the G7's effective removal of Russia from the G8 earlier this week and what it would mean for the global economy.

Some European nations, including Germany, have been hesitant to level strong economic sanctions against Russia given their close ties to Moscow and the fragility of their economies following the 2008 global economic meltdown.

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