Politics

Trudeau announces sanctions on Russia as Moscow ramps up pressure on Ukraine

The federal government has announced a series of new sanctions against Russia in response to the Kremlin's escalation of military pressure against Ukraine.

Ottawa will also deploy up to 460 soldiers, military equipment to Latvia

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has promised to take part in a coordinated campaign of sanctions against Russia in the event of military aggression against Ukraine. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

The federal government has announced a new round of sanctions on Russia and is promising further economic penalties if the Kremlin fails to halt what Prime Minister Justin Trudeau described as a "further invasion" of Ukraine.

Trudeau announced the sanctions Tuesday, one day after Russian President Vladimir Putin formally recognized two renegade districts in eastern Ukraine where Moscow-backed proxy forces have been fighting Ukrainian forces for seven years.

In addition to the penalties, the prime minister ordered the deployment of another 460 Canadian Armed Forces personnel — army, navy and air force — to join NATO's mission in eastern Europe to reassure allies bordering Russia.

After recognizing the breakaway regions as independent republics, Putin also announced he was sending Russian troops to Donetsk and Luhansk — which are internationally recognized as Ukrainian territory — to perform what he called "peacekeeping duties."

"Make no mistake — this is a further invasion of a sovereign state and it is absolutely unacceptable," Trudeau said.

"Russia's brazen provocations are a threat to security and peace in the world."

The Canadian government has imposed a long list of sanctions on Russia since it annexed Ukraine's Crimea region in 2014. Trudeau called the further measures announced Tuesday a "first round" in response to the Kremlin's latest actions.

The penalties mirror the overall allied effort and are intended to help cripple Russia's economic and political capacity to make war. Among other things, the sanctions bar Canadians from having any financial dealings with the breakaway regions.

Canadians also will be barred from purchasing Russian sovereign debt and dealing with two state-backed Russian banks.

Ottawa will also sanction members of the Russian parliament who voted to recognize the separatist regions.

Trudeau said the sanctions "will remain in place until the territorial integrity of Ukraine is restored."

WATCH | Trudeau outlines 'first round' of sanctions against Russia

Trudeau announces financial sanctions on Russia in response to escalating tensions in the region

4 months ago
Duration 1:40
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced sanctions on Russian banks and said he'll deploy more troops to the region as Russia continues to pressure Ukraine.

Canada and its western allies have warned that the Kremlin's latest moves could be part of a Russian effort to concoct a pretext for a full-scale military invasion of Ukraine.

In a televised speech to the Russian people on Monday, Putin questioned the legitimacy of Ukrainian statehood and argued the nation was a creation of the Bolsheviks.

Trudeau said those claims are "inaccurate and contained dangerous disinformation."

Canada and allies roll out coordinated sanctions

Earlier on Tuesday, the United States, United Kingdom and Germany announced sanctions targeting Russian banks and called off the planned opening of a natural gas pipeline connecting Russia to Germany.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has suspended the certification process for the Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline in response to Putin's decree.

The suspension is particularly significant because experts estimate it could cost the Russian economy as much as $3 billion US per year.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the U.K. government would begin imposing new sanctions on Russian banks and individuals following Putin's decision to recognize the separatist regions as independent.

The sanctions announced by Johnson apply to five Russian banks and a trio of wealthy Russian businessmen with ties to the U.K.

Like Canada, the other allies described their penalties as an initial step and promised other major sanctions unless the Russian military operation is halted.

Ihor Michalchyshyn, executive director of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress, has been pushing for additional sanctions for months. He said a gradual approach to sanctions will not deter Russia.

"The behaviour we're trying to sanction is is already happening," he said. "Putin got [as many as] 200,000 troops, you know. Now he's he's just rolled over other border, so I think our point has been, from the beginning, there is an invasion and all the heavy sanctions should be rolled out soon and early."

Trudeau said he believes the measures announced on Tuesday will be effective.

'We know that the impact of these decisions that Canada is making, but also that our allies are making, are going to have real impacts on the Russian people and on the Russian economy," said the prime minister, pointing to Germany's pipeline decision.

The question of how effective the sanctions will be is open to debate. Over the last several years, Russia has taken deliberate steps to insulate its economy from the effect of western penalties. Last spring, Moscow moved to divest itself of much of the U.S. dollar holdings in its sovereign wealth fund.

What's at stake, said Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland, is the ability of Canada and its allies to dissuade military aggression in Ukraine and across the globe.

"The world's autocrats are watching today to see if our alliance of democracies has the will and the capacity to stand up for the rules-based international order," she said.

Trudeau and his government said more severe sanctions will be imposed if Russia engages in further military action.

More Canadian soldiers heading to Latvia

Trudeau also announced the deployment of up to 460 Canadian Armed Forces members, a frigate and maritime patrol aircraft to NATO member Latvia.

The troops and equipment will be deployed under an existing military mission, Operation REASSURANCE.

The move comes weeks after Canada ordered its military trainers out of Ukraine and moved its embassy to Lviv, which is considered a safer location than the capital Kyiv.

"We're doing this to reinforce our commitment to NATO and promote peace and security in Europe," Trudeau said.

Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly said Canada is seeking an explanation from Russia of its decisions.

"I have directed my deputy minister to summon the Russian ambassador to explain Russia's continued aggression, violation of international law, and disregard for Ukrainian sovereignty," Joly wrote on Twitter.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Murray Brewster

Senior reporter, defence and security

Murray Brewster is senior defence writer for CBC News, based in Ottawa. He has covered the Canadian military and foreign policy from Parliament Hill for over a decade. Among other assignments, he spent a total of 15 months on the ground covering the Afghan war for The Canadian Press. Prior to that, he covered defence issues and politics for CP in Nova Scotia for 11 years and was bureau chief for Standard Broadcast News in Ottawa.

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