At a news conference on Tuesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also said that Canada is sending up to 460 additional Canadian Armed Forces members to Latvia and the surrounding region to bolster NATO in the face of Russian aggression.
Trudeau said the first round of economic sanctions will ban Canadians from all financial dealings with the breakaway Ukrainian regions Putin recognized, Donetsk and Luhansk. The sanctions will also target members of the Russian parliament who voted for the decision to recognize the separatist regions, as well as ban Canadians from engaging in purchases of Russian sovereign debt, Trudeau said.
“These sanctions are a major step and target those responsible for violating the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine,” said Trudeau, adding that the measures will remain in place until territorial integrity is restored.
“Russia’s brazen provocations are a threat to security and peace in the world,” said the prime minister. “It is not too late for Russia to seek a diplomatic resolution and re-establish the pathway to peace,” he added.
The fresh sanctions and troops deployment come as the threat of war between Russia and Ukraine grows.
On Tuesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin was given permission from Kremlin lawmakers to deploy Russian military forces to two separatist-held regions of eastern Ukraine for what officials said would be a “peacekeeping” mission.
The permission came after Moscow formally recognized the independence of the Ukrainian regions on Monday, triggering international condemnation and sanctions from other Western nations.
Speaking at the same news conference as Trudeau on Tuesday, Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said Canada’s “quarrel is not with the Russian people,” but with Putin and his supporters.
“If Russia does not pull back, it will be met with a firm, united and sustained response from Canada and our allies,” she said.
The Kremlin has consistently denied it is planning to pursue a full-blown war with Ukraine – but the United States on Tuesday declared Russia’s troop deployments in eastern Ukraine to be an “invasion.”
Canadian Foreign Minister Melanie Joly also reiterated that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine “has started,” saying that Moscow’s actions represent a “direct threat” to the peace and security of Ukraine and the world.
“Our response begins today and should Russia escalate, so will the cost imposed by Canada and its allies,” Joly warned.
“We are prepared to target even more of Russia’s financial sector and oligarchs, and we’re ready to make significant announcements related to Canadian exports to Russia.”
In addition to more troops, Canada announced Tuesday that it will also be deploying an additional frigate and maritime patrol aircraft to Latvia. This is on top of the 540 Armed Forces members already deployed to Latvia where they are leading a NATO battlegroup.
Among the 460 additional troops, an artillery battery of up to 120 personnel will be deployed for six weeks in about 30 days, Defense Minister Anita Anand said. The vast majority of the additional troops will be deployed towards the end of March, she added.
What are the sanctions by other nations?
U.S. President Joe Biden announced Tuesday that Washington is imposing “full blocking sanctions” against Russia’s military bank and the financial institution VEB. The White House also announced it is implementing “comprehensive sanctions on Russian sovereign debt,” meaning Russia’s government has been cut off from Western financing, Biden said.
Furthermore, Washington will also impose sanctions on Russian elites and their family members in the coming days, and has promised to introduce steeper punishments if Moscow continues its aggression in Ukraine.
When it comes to sanctions, the European Union agreed on Tuesday to blacklist more politicians, lawmakers and officials, to ban EU investors from trading in Russian state bonds, and to target imports and exports with separatist entities.
Meanwhile, Germany took steps to halt the process of certifying the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia.
The decision was a significant move for the German government, which had resisted pulling the plug on the project despite pressure from the United States and some European countries to do so.
For years, the Americans have argued that building another pipeline that brought natural gas to Germany from Russia increased Europe’s reliance on Russian energy supplies.
U.S. officials also warned Nord Stream 2 poses risks to Ukraine and Poland because it could allow Russia to stop pumping gas through those countries.
For weeks, the West has been bracing for escalation as Russia stationed nearly 200,000 troops on three sides of neighbouring Ukraine.
They warned an attack would cause massive casualties, energy shortages in Europe and economic chaos around the globe – and promised swift and severe sanctions if it materialized.
Western leaders have long warned that Moscow would look for cover to invade – and such a pretext might have come Monday when Putin recognized Donetsk and Luhansk as independent and deployed troops there.
For eight years in those regions, Ukrainian government troops have fought Russia-backed rebels in a conflict that has killed at least 14,000 people.
In recent weeks, Russia has blamed the U.S. and its allies for the current crisis and described Ukraine’s desire to join the NATO alliance as an existential challenge to Russia.
Russia wants western guarantees that NATO won’t allow Ukraine and other former Soviet countries to join as members. Moscow has also demanded the alliance halt weapons deployments to Ukraine and roll back its forces from Eastern Europe – demands rejected by the West.
Diplomatic talks have been ongoing, but have yet to yield any positive results.
— with files from The Canadian Press, Associated Press and Reuters