Trudeau announces sanctions on Putin, calls for Russia's removal from SWIFT banking system

Canada will impose sanctions directly on Russian President Vladimir Putin and his inner circle of advisers, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Friday afternoon.

Sanctions will also apply to Russia's foreign minister and Putin's chief of staff

Canada set to impose sanctions on Putin, wants Russia removed from SWIFT bank network

2 years ago
Duration 2:08
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Canada is set to impose direct sanctions on Russian President Vladimir Putin and his inner circle. Canada is also among a group of countries that wants Russia removed from the SWIFT global banking network.

Canada will impose sanctions directly on Russian President Vladimir Putin and his inner circle of advisers, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Friday afternoon.

The sanctions will also extend to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Putin's chief of staff.

"These men bear the greatest responsibility for the death and destruction occurring in Ukraine," Trudeau said.

"The world is witnessing the horrors of President Putin's war of choice … It is an atrocity for Ukraine's over 40 million innocent citizens, and for the world."

Trudeau described the new measures as the third set of "severe, co-ordinated sanctions" implemented by Canada and its allies.

The United States, United Kingdom and European Union earlier on Friday announced sanctions against Putin and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

A man walks past a building damaged following a rocket attack in Kyiv Friday. (Emilio Morenatti/The Associated Press)

The EU is freezing financial accounts connected to Putin. The U.S. sanctions also impose a travel ban on Putin.

Trudeau acknowledged that Putin does not have "much if anything in terms of personal holdings in Canada," but said the measure is important because it signals strong co-operation from Canada and its allies.

"This is a significant step and it has its impact in the fact that we are all, as Western countries, united and aligned on this," he said.

WATCH | Trudeau describes how sanctions will hurt Putin: 

Trudeau explains how new sanctions will affect Russian President Vladimir Putin and his associates

2 years ago
Duration 1:33
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says this is the first time the West has imposed sanctions affecting Putin personally.

Russian Embassy slams 'absurd' sanctions

In a statement Friday evening, the Russian Embassy in Canada criticized the sanctions as an "unprecedentedly unfriendly" and "absurd" step.

"It contradicts all principles of interstate relations and diplomatic ethics," the embassy said.

"The Cabinet is approaching the point of an irreparable severance of bilateral ties. Response will follow."

The statement went on to repeat Putin's claims about "the rise of neo-Nazism in Ukraine." Putin has cited the need to "denazify" Ukraine's leadership as one of his main reasons for invasion, accusing it of genocide against Russian-speakers in Eastern Ukraine. Kyiv and its Western allies dismiss the accusations as baseless propaganda.

Canada will also impose new sanctions on Belarus, which hosted joint exercises with the Russian military and served as the launching pad for the invasion across Ukraine's northern border. The new sanctions apply to 57 Belarusian individuals.

Oleksiy Honcharuk, who served as Ukraine's prime minister from 2019 to 2020, said the additional sanctions will not deter Putin.

"Economic sanctions, it's not enough ... It's too little, too late," Honcharuk told CBC's Power & Politics.

He called on NATO countries to send military equipment to Ukraine and work to close the airspace above the country.

WATCH | What sanctions mean for Putin and Russia's oligarchs:

Sanctioning Vladimir Putin and Russia’s billionaire oligarchs

2 years ago
Duration 6:39
Canada is one of the countries imposing personal sanctions on Russian President Vladimir Putin and his inner circle, but there are questions about the effectiveness of these sanctions, given that many of these assets are held in the names of others.

Canada joins U.K. in calling for Russia's removal from SWIFT

Trudeau is now calling for Russia's removal from SWIFT, the Belgian-based banking system used for many international financial transactions.

"Excluding Russian banks from SWIFT will make it even more difficult for President Putin to finance his brutalities," Trudeau said.

Trudeau and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson are the NATO leaders pushing most vocally for Russia's removal from the banking system. The two leaders discussed the possibility of action on SWIFT during a call on Friday, Johnson's office reported.

People wait to board an evacuation train from Kyiv to the western city of Lviv, near the Polish border, on Friday. (Umit Bektas/Reuters)

The EU decided Friday that it would not recommend removing Russia from SWIFT. The U.S. also has said it is not yet calling for that move.

The system connects some 11,000 banks and financial institutions in more than 200 countries, according to SWIFT. The service provides banks with a secure messaging system to coordinate money transfers.

WATCH | Trudeau says removal from SWIFT would prevent Putin from profiting from war: 

Trudeau calls for Russia's removal from the SWIFT international banking system

2 years ago
Duration 1:15
Prime minister says Putin cannot make war and expect to benefit financially

Some European officials have been reluctant to call for Russia's removal from SWIFT due to concerns that the move could hurt some European nations more than Russia itself.

"It is a sanction that may actually also cut harder for certain countries than it cuts Russia," said German Ambassador to Canada Sabine Sparwasser on CBC's The House. "We're discussing it, and I think it is on the table, but no decision has been taken yet."

Alexander Stubb, a former prime minister of Finland, told CBC's Power & Politics he is "absolutely sure" the EU eventually will support Russia's removal from SWIFT.

Stubb said Russia's removal from SWIFT represents the "nuclear option" of sanctions that can isolate Russia from the rest of the world.

WATCH | Former prime minister of Finland on the future of SWIFT and Russia: 

Europe will expel Russia from SWIFT, predicts former Finnish PM

2 years ago
Duration 6:38
Former Finnish Prime Minister Alexander Stubb believes Europe will slap Russia with further sanctions in order to isolate the country over its invasion of Ukraine and that eventually, they will go one step further: "Europe will go for the full monty of sanctions...including SWIFT."


Nick Boisvert is a multimedia journalist at the CBC's Parliamentary Bureau in Ottawa. He previously covered municipal politics for CBC News in Toronto. You can reach him at nick.boisvert@cbc.ca.

With files from Reuters