Russian, Ukrainian officials face more sanctions from Canada
Stephen Harper planning trip to Ukraine on March 22 to meet with acting Prime Minister Yatsenyuk
Canada is imposing further economic sanctions and travel bans against Russian and Ukrainian individuals in the wake of Sunday's referendum in Crimea.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper said the sanctions and travel restrictions will target "various senior people in Russia and in Ukraine — in Crimea, specifically," just before meeting with Ukrainian Ambassador Vadym Prystaiko in Ottawa Monday afternoon.
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The list of 10 includes Dmitry Olegovich Rogozin, Russia's deputy prime minister, as well as aides to president Vladimir Putin and other high-ranking members of the Russian government.
Canada is also imposing sanctions against Crimean officials, including prime minister Serhiy Valeriyovich Aksyonov.
Following his meeting with Harper, Prystaiko told reporters that Ukraine doesn't want to impose sanctions and that the country wants to maintain trade with its immediate neighbour.
He acknowledges, however, that the situation is worsening each day and that the smallest, harshest words are better than the softest bullet.
"Sanctions are still better than shooting people on streets," Prystaiko said.
Targeted sanctions will be carried out via Canada's Special Economic Measures Act, which can be used when "a grave breach of international peace and security has occurred that has resulted or is likely to result in a serious international crisis," according to the Foreign Affairs website.
The actions come on the heels of the referendum in Crimea on Sunday, in which nearly 97 per cent of voters supported breaking away from Ukraine to join Russia. Crimea's parliament swiftly declared the region an independent state.
"It’s my strong belief that we must keep the pressure on and we must continue to maintain sanctions and maintain putting in place strong steps to dissuade this behaviour," Harper said.
Despite a tidal wave of international pressure, Putin today signed an order recognizing Crimea as an independent state.
Canada sets moral example, Liberal MP says
Liberal MP Chrystia Freeland said the new "whatever it is" of Crimea will not enjoy international legitimacy and it's important to keep sending that message.
"This is going to be a long story," she told Reshmi Nair on CBC News Network.
"Our priority has to be to make very clear to Vladimir Putin that going any further will be a huge escalation and that there will be a response."
Freeland, a Ukrainian-Canadian, said the prospect of Russia inching further into southern and eastern Ukraine is "terrifying" and that it's necessary to "create powerful disincentives" through diplomacy.
The Liberal MP said she is pleased that Canadian politicians haven't turned the crisis in Ukraine into a partisan issue.
"I think we are united in our belief that Ukraine, and the idea of democracy and national sovereignty needs to be supported."
Freeland recently returned from a trip to Kyiv and said pictures of the Ukrainian flag flying on Ottawa's Parliament Hill was on Ukrainian TV "many, many times."
"We were early in imposing sanctions and travel bans on key Ukrainian officials," she said.
"So, Canada sets a real moral example here and that's important."
On the other hand, NDP foreign affairs critic Paul Dewar said while sanctions send a message and are important, he doesn't believe they'll make much of an immediate difference.
"Let's be realistic about them," he told Rosemary Barton on CBC News Network's Power & Politics.
"They're not going to change the mindset of the Kremlin overnight — or Putin."
G7 leaders pressure Russia
Canada, along with the 28-nation European Union and the United States, doesn't recognize the outcome of the vote and says the referendum was illegitimate and unconstitutional.
"The so-called referendum held today was conducted with Crimea under illegal military occupation," Harper said in a written statement on Sunday. "Its results are a reflection of nothing more than Russian military control.
"Mr. Putin's reckless and unilateral actions will lead only to Russia's further economic and political isolation from the international community."
The Canadian government said it is working with G7 partners to further pressure Russia to withdraw its troops to their bases.
Earlier, the EU announced travel bans and asset freezes on 21 high-ranking Russian and Ukrainian officials linked to pushing the strategic Crimean peninsula to secede from Ukraine.
The White House also imposed sanctions on many of the same individuals, the most comprehensive actions against Russia since the Cold War.
The Canadian government has already frozen the assets of 18 Ukrainian officials from the Yanukovych regime, as well as announced travel bans against individuals deemed responsible for threatening Ukraine's territorial integrity.
Harper's meeting with Prystaiko was to discuss his upcoming trip to Ukraine on March 22. Harper will meet with acting Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, en route to the Nuclear Security Summit in The Hague, Netherlands.
On Power & Politics, Prystaiko hinted there would be announcements related to increased partnerships between Canada and Ukraine. He didn't want to delve into the topic of possible economic relations, but said "there will be some deals."
"Canada was always our special partner over the years," he told Barton.
"There have been some ups and downs, but we've had many things — investments — many, many things to work on."
Harper last visited Ukraine in October 2010.