Ukraine crisis: Are sanctions against Russia working?

WATCH: The Canadian government has imposed new economic sanctions and travel bans on Russia, in an effort to further punish the Kremlin for what it’s doing in Ukraine. Jacques Bourbeau reports.

TORONTO – Even as Canada announces a fresh round of sanctions against Russia over its aggressive stance in the Ukraine, experts argue the steps Canada, the U.S. and Europe have taken don’t go far enough to shift Moscow’s actions.

Canada’s latest sanctions add 19 Russians and Ukrainians to the list of those banned from travel to Canada, and an additional 22 Russian and Ukrainian groups and economic entities.

“I believe there is pressure on the Russian economy, and, again, a number of these sanctions have been put in place,” Defence Minister Rob Nicholson told Global News. “These are new ones today, but certainly [along with the sanctions imposed] over the last six months, the indications we have are that this puts pressure on the Russian economy and we are confident that it will continue and continue to build.”
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And while sanctions don’t “have the effect that you want overnight,” Nicholson said, he thinks eventually there will be enough pressure on Russia’s economy to force Putin to change his course of action in eastern Ukraine.

READ MORE: US, EU, Canada adopt new economic sanctions on Russia over Ukraine

Ferry de Kerchove, a former Canadian ambassador to Pakistan, Egypt and Indonesia, isn’t so sure.

“Each country has managed to salvage a good chunk of what it wants with its relationship with Russia,” he said.

Kerchove points to Canada’s Bombardier Inc. which has protected a $3.4 billion deal with Russian company Rostec for the assembly of 100 Q400 jets; and the French government, which will go ahead with a $1.6-billion deal to supply Russia with two Mistral helicopter carriers.

“As they are today, [the sanctions] are incapable of changing the behaviour of Russia,” de Kerchove said.
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WATCH: Vladimir Putin says the sanctions imposed on Russia have been unacceptable and that Russia would respond with retaliatory measures

The new sanctions apply to a number of Russian military and defence entities and join sanctions announced by the U.S. and E.U last week.

Russian companies affected include:

  • Bank of Moscow;
  • Dobrolet Airlines;
  • Russian Agricultural Bank;
  • Russian National Commercial Bank;
  • United Shipbuilding Corporation;
  • VTB Bank OAO.

Carleton University professor Jeff Sahadeo says while the sanctions may hurt Russia in the short-term, they won’t alter Moscow’s actions in Crimea.

“We are seeing a lot of Russian banks losing access to capital markets,” Sahadeo said. “But Putin has such a strong grip over the political classes, and it’s very difficult for anyone to speak about against his actions. And what he has been doing is imposing retaliatory sanctions against the EU and the West.”

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READ MORE: EU sanctions will weaken fight against international terrorism, says Russia

Putin announced Wednesday Russia will import less food and agricultural products from countries with sanctions against Russia. A statement released by the Kremlin on Wednesday says the imports will be “banned or limited” for one year.

“Without the ability to do business in the West, the Russian economy is going to suffer,” Sahadeo said. “The question is whether Putin cares that much because he is more concerned about his popularity and power than he is about the economic issues in the country.”

WATCH: Minister of National Defence Rob Nicholson says the latest sanctions is another message to the Putin regime to end its actions in Ukraine.

 *With files from Global News Jacques Bourbeau