Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Friday that Canada will be placing sanctions on Russian President Vladimir Putin and members of his top staff, with the Kremlin responding that there will be a follow-up action.
“All options are on the table,” Trudeau said, referring to measures Canada will take against the invasion that is into its second day, with Russian forces nearing Ukraine’s capital of Kyiv.
“This is a significant step and it has its impact in the fact that we are all as western countries united and aligned on this.”
Trudeau said this is the first time a “global community” has taken steps to sanction Putin personally.
Putin’s chief of staff Sergei Ivanov and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will also be sanctioned, along with 57 individuals in Belarus, which Trudeau said is aiding the invasion.
Canada will also support Russia’s removal from the SWIFT banking system, Trudeau said, to exclude Russia from making transactions around the world.
SWIFT is a digital payment and messaging network that connects thousands of banks worldwide.
Russia’s removal has not been enacted yet as other countries haven’t committed to the action, though both France and Italy told Ukrainian officials Friday they would support the move.
Trudeau said excluding Russian banks from the system would make it even more difficult for Putin to “finance his brutalities,” and that the president cannot expect to “benefit” from financial systems that peace has brought while ending that very peace.
Russia’s embassy to Canada responded to the sanctions Friday evening, calling them an “unprecedently unfriendly” and “absurd” step.
“It contradicts all principles of interstate relations and diplomatic ethics,” the embassy said in a statement.
“The Cabinet is approaching the point of an irreparable severance of bilateral ties. Response will follow.”
Trudeau’s announcement is the third set of sanctions against Russia, which he said are “severe” and “co-ordinated.”
Canada on Thursday announced sanctions on 62 Russian individuals and entities, including the country’s elites and major banks, and export permits were cancelled.
On Friday, crown liquor stores in Ontario, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Manitoba and B.C. said they were removing Russian products from their stores.
The U.S., U.K. and the European Union also said Friday that they would place sanctions against Putin and Lavrov.
The Treasury Department said sanctions against a head of state were “exceedingly rare,” and put Putin on a short list that included the leaders of North Korea, Syria and Belarus.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the option of cutting Russia off from the SWIFT system remains on the table.
Trudeau said Putin does “not have much” or any personal holdings at all in Canada, but the sanctions are meant to prevent the Russian president from having “loopholes” to move his money around and to show him that his personal wealth is at “significant risk,” Trudeau said.
“We want to make sure that we’re suffocating the Russian regime. That’s our goal,” said Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly.
— with files from Reuters and The Canadian Press
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