Canada to petition ICC to probe alleged Russian war crimes, says Joly
Transport minister says Canada will close waters to Russian ships
Canada will petition the International Criminal Court (ICC) on Tuesday to probe alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity by Russian forces in Ukraine, Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly said.
The office of the ICC prosecutor on Monday said it will seek court approval to open an investigation into alleged war crimes in Ukraine, just days after Russia invaded its neighbour.
"Today also, Canada will petition the International Criminal Court ... against Russia for crimes against humanity and war crimes," said Joly, speaking to reporters in Geneva after taking part in a walkout staged to protest a virtual speech by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to the UN Human Rights Council.
"And it was also important for us to show that we are steadfast in terms of our support to Ukraine."
Russian shelling hit civilian targets in Ukraine's second-largest city, Kharkiv, again Tuesday as a convoy of tanks and other vehicles threatened the capital Kyiv.
Videos posted online showed explosions hitting the Kharkiv region's Soviet-era administrative building and residential areas, while a maternity ward was relocated to a shelter due to shelling.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said the attack on the strategic eastern city's main square — which he described as "frank, undisguised terror" — was a Russian missile strike. He called the attack a war crime.
"Nobody will forgive. Nobody will forget ... This is state terrorism of the Russian Federation," he said.
On Tuesday, the Canadian government made more announcements in response to Russia's aggression.
WATCH | Kyiv shelled as Russian convoy advances:
Canada expands and tightens sanctions
Ottawa has announced new sanctions against 18 people connected to Russia's security council, including Russian President Vladimir Putin and some of his top advisers. The government also has expanded existing sanctions against three entities, including the Russian central bank.
The new sanctions do not target additional Russian oligarchs, although Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said the government will consider that move in the future.
"We are looking carefully at the holdings of all Russian oligarchs and Russian companies inside Canada," she told a Tuesday afternoon news conference. "We're reviewing them and everything is on the table."
WATCH | Frightened residents in Kyiv, Kharkiv take shelter:
Transport Minister Omar Alghabra announced the government intends to close Canadian waters and ports to Russian-owned or registered ships. His office said the order will come into effect later this week.
"We don't have a lot that come from Russia, but sometimes they come from somewhere else," said Alghabra to reporters after a cabinet meeting.
"So this will have an impact."
Over the weekend, Canada closed its airspace to all Russian aircraft operators.
Canada also announced Tuesday that it will provide an additional $100 million to the UN to deliver humanitarian assistance to Ukrainian refugees inside and outside Ukraine.
Some 677,000 refugees from Ukraine have flooded over that country's borders into neighbouring states in the past five days.
PHOTOS | Kyiv targets hit as Russia shells several cities:
Greens don't support lethal weapon aid
On Monday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the government is banning Russian oil imports and will send a third shipment of lethal weapons to Ukraine as its military continues to fight off better-armed Russian forces.
Canada is pledging to send 100 Carl-Gustaf anti-tank weapons systems and 2,000 rockets — ammunition for the shoulder-mounted weapons — from the Canadian Armed Forces inventory. That's on top of the $7.8 million in weapons — including handguns, machine-guns and carbines, and ammunition — Trudeau agreed to two weeks ago.
WATCH | Shelling destroys residential and government buildings in Kharkiv:
Amita Kuttner, interim leader of the Green Party of Canada, said their party doesn't support sending lethal aid to Ukraine.
"I 100 per cent do not support them sending lethal weapons," Kuttner said Tuesday. "It's the Green Party's stance of non-violence, and we must do everything that we can to support in a non-violent way."
Kuttner wouldn't rule out revisiting the party's pacifist stance if Canada exhausts its financial sanctions and diplomatic options.
One of the party's MPs said sending weapons risks making the conflict worse.
"We're not going to win a ground war with a country that is willing to use nuclear weapons," Elizabeth May said. "That's the huge danger here."
The Conservatives and Bloc Québécois have said they support sending lethal aid.
The NDP hasn't stated its most recent position on sending lethal aid, but earlier this year said it was opposed to the idea.
With files from David Thurton and the Associated Press