Ukraine crisis provokes more economic sanctions against Russia

Canada and the European Union brought additional sanctions against individual Russians and businesses on Monday as a warning to Vladimir Putin not to interfere in Ukraine's election later this month. Signficantly, though, Russia's energy giant Gazprom remains unaffected.

Gazprom still untouched but economic measures target those seen as close to President Vladimir Putin

Sanctions imposed against Russia over its actions in Ukraine have targeted some individuals who are considered to be close to Russian President Vladimir Putin. (Alexei Nikolsky, Presidential Press Service/RIA-Novosti/Associated Press)

The economic sanctions that Western nations and Japan have brought against Russia over Ukraine have targeted people and businesses, with travel bans and asset freezes hitting individuals who are considered to be close financially or politically to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

World leaders have also dangled the prospect of harsher actions in economically sensitive areas such as energy if Russia disrupts elections to choose a successor to ousted Ukranian President Victor Yanukovych on May 25.

Canada's sanctions have focused on senior officials, businesses and some institutions in Russia and Ukraine.

"Until Russia clearly demonstrates its respect for Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity, Canada will continue to work with its allies and like-minded countries to apply pressure that will further isolate Russia economically and politically," Prime Minister Stephen Harper has said.

The most recent international action came Monday, when Canada added six Russians and six Ukrainians to its sanctions list. Earlier in the day, the European Union added 13 individuals and two businesses to its list.

Notably absent from everyone's sanctions lists are the top officials with Gazprom, the Russian energy behemoth that supplies Western Europe with much of its natural gas, and is half-owned by the Russian government. 

EU ministers agreed to expand visa bans and asset freezes to hit people considered to be undermining stability in Ukraine, or obstructing international organizations there. Monday's move marked the first time corporations were targeted by the EU.

The international sanctions followed Russia's annexation of the Crimean region after the March 16 referendum, and escalated because of the current standoff over Eastern Ukraine.

Here's a look at some of the sanctions so far.


On Monday, the federal government added the names of six Russians and six Ukrainians to the list of those who face economic sanctions and travel bans. So far, Canada has issued sanctions against 62 individuals and 19 entities, including some banks. The Russian names added Monday are:

  • Valery Gerasimov Vasilevich, chief of the general staff of the armed forces of the Russian Federation.
  • Igor Girkin (also known as Igor Strelkov), a member of the main intelligence directorate of the general staff of the armed forces.
  • Sergei Ivanovich Menyailo, acting governor of the Ukrainian city of Sevastopol.
  • Sergei Ivanovich Neverov, deputy chairman of the State Duma, Russia's parliament
  • Oleg Savelyev Genirokhovich, minister for Crimean affairs.​
  • Ludmila Ivanovna Shvetsova, deputy chairman of the State Duma.

Ukrainian individuals targeted are:

  • Olga Fedorovna Kovatidi, a member of the Russian Federation Council from the Autonomous Republic of Crimea.
  • German Prokopiv, leader of the Luhansk Guard.
  • Valeriy Bolotov, retired officer and chair of airborne troop veterans of Luhansk.
  • Andriy Purgin, head of the self-proclaimed Donetsk Republic.
  • Denys Pushylin, a leader of the Donetsk Republic.
  • Sergey Gennadevich Tsyplakov, one of the leaders of the People's Militia of Donbass.

Harper said the 12 individuals targeted by Monday's sanctions "have facilitated Russia's violation of Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity."

Monday's announcement came a week after Ottawa imposed sanctions on 16 Russian "entities," mainly banks and companies. 

That expansion of sanctions followed travel bans on April 28 against another nine individuals:

  • Vyaecheslav Volodin, first deputy chief.
  • Dmitry Kozak, deputy prime minister.
  • Aleksey Pushkov, chair of Duma international relations committee.
  • Alexander Mikhailovich Babakov, chair of the Duma commission on legislative provisions for development of the military-industrial complex of the Russian Federation.
  • Oleg Evgenyevich Belaventsev, Russian presidential envoy to the Crimean district; member of the Russian security council.
  • Evgeniy Alexsevevich Morov, director of the Federal Protective Service of the Russian Federation.
  • Vladimir Volfovich Zhirinovsky, founder and leader of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia.
  • Arkady Rotenberg, Russian businessman.
  • Boris Rotenberg, Russian businessman.

Two organizations — ExpoBank and RosEnergoBank — were also targeted.

The Canadian sanctions followed similar actions that day by the U.S.

A Russian diplomat was also ordered to leave Canada in April in retaliation for a Canadian envoy's expulsion from Moscow.

United States

The U.S. has published three lists of individuals and companies targeted by travel bans and asset freezes.

The most recent came on April 28. That list featured seven government officials, including two the U.S. Treasury Department described as "key members of the Russian leadership's inner circle," and 17 entities. 

Those entities include InvestCapitalBank and SMP Bank, which the Treasury Department said are controlled by Arkady Rotenberg and Boris Rotenberg, who are also the target of Canadian sanctions.

Russian businessman and billionaire Gennady Timchenko has been targeted by U.S. sanctions over Russian actions in Ukraine. (Alexander Nikolayev/Interpress/Associated Press)
​Arkady Rotenberg has longstanding personal ties with Putin, the BBC reported, noting they belonged to the same St. Petersburg judo club years ago.

Other individuals targeted by the U.S. who also appear on Canada's list include Oleg Belaventsev and Dmitry Kozak.

The U.S. and Canada have also issued sanctions against Gennady Timchenko, a man the BBC describes as a long-standing friend of Putin and one who Forbes says has a net worth of $13.9 billion. Timchenko sold his 43 per cent stake in the Gunvor Group, an international energy trader, one day before the U.S. Treasury imposed sanctions on him, Forbes said.

Yuri Kovalchuk, the largest single shareholder in Bank Rossiya, has also been targeted by the U.S.

The BBC reported Kovalchuk has been described as one of Putin's "cashiers" and is a close adviser to him.

Some U.S. politicians have urged the White House to extend sanctions to Gazprom, the Russian natural gas state monopoly.

So far, however, the energy firm remains untouched. "I think our president is taking a cautious approach warranted because our European allies are ... trade partners with Russia, they depend on Russia's energy. And so we have [to] be careful because sanctions against Russia also have the good probability of hurting our allies," U.S. representative Lois Frankel said during an American TV appearance, the Christian Science Monitor reported.

But one U.S. senator has urged U.S. President Barack Obama to put Gazprom on the sanction list.

"Unless Russia ends its destabilization of Eastern Ukraine and drastically reduces troop levels on the Ukrainian border immediately, further sanctions against strategic sectors of the Russian economy, particularly targeting Gazprom and additional important financial institutions, should be imposed within days," Tennessee Senator Bob Corker wrote in a letter to Obama on April 12.

European Union

Closer to the Ukraine and Russia, sanctions have not been as extensive as they have been in the U.S.

Europe's action on Monday brings its total to 61 individuals.

The EU also extended sanctions to two Crimean companies, marking the first time Europe targeted corporations, but the measures still "fell far short" of sanctions imposed by the U.S., Reuters reported.

"The EU's reticence to go further and impose tough economic sanctions on Russia over its support for pro-Russian groups in Ukraine reflects concerns among many of its member states about trade and industrial ties and heavy reliance on Russian energy."

Additional EU sanctions may be imposed if "actions and provocations" hamper the Ukraine presidential election campaign, France's European affairs minister, Harlem Desir, said.

On the weekend, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande issued a similar message.

They said they would support tougher sanctions in areas such as energy or defence.

Economic concerns could play into any consideration of sanctions by Germany, with Stern magazine noting the country's growth could be cut by 0.9 percentage points if harsher sanctions were introduced, Reuters reported.

With files from The Canadian Press and The Associated Press