Forty-three Russian oligarchs, financial elites and their family members, and 35 Russia-backed senior officials in Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia, are now subject to Canadian sanctions.
The four regions were illegally annexed by Russia earlier in the day after Putin signed documents during a ceremony at the Kremlin.
The annexation comes after voting was held in the four occupied regions from Sept. 23-27. Pro-Moscow officials claimed Tuesday that 93 per cent of the ballots cast in the Zaporizhzhia region supported annexation, as did 87 per cent in the Kherson region, 98 per cent in the Luhansk region and 99 per cent in Donetsk. Many Western leaders denounced the legitimacy of the votes.
“These individuals and entity are complicit in President Putin’s desperate attempt to undermine the principles of state sovereignty, and share responsibility for the ongoing senseless bloodshed throughout Ukraine,” Ottawa said in a news release Friday.
“Building on similar measures Canada has already imposed on the regions of Donetsk and Luhansk, certain business dealings in or with the Russian occupied areas of the Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions, including investing and exporting, are henceforth prohibited.”
Putin’s proclamation of Russian rule over 15 per cent of Ukraine – the biggest annexation in Europe since the Second World War – has been firmly rejected by the West. It comes as Russian forces have faced setbacks on the battlefield, with one of the worst so far looming even as Putin made the official announcement.
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Pro-Russian officials acknowledged that Russian troops were on the verge of encirclement in Lyman, their main garrison in the north of Donetsk province. Defeat there could open the way for Ukraine to recapture swathes of the territory that Putin has now declared to be part of Russia.
Earlier in the week, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said “stronger sanctions” were coming amid Moscow’s move.
In Friday’s news release, Ottawa said Putin’s annexation has “no legitimacy.”
“His egregious violations of international law are based on the imperial notion that his regime can redraw the map as it pleases,” the federal government said.
“The vote in Russia’s Federal Assembly to integrate Ukraine’s territories is an attempt to formalize President Putin’s conquest through political theatre. This sham process will not alter Canada’s position. Borders will not change. Ukraine’s territory will remain Ukraine’s.”
Canada’s allies also levied new sanctions on Russia Friday. The United States imposed sanctions on 14 people in Russia’s military-industrial complex, two leaders of the country’s central bank, family members of top officials and 278 members of Russia’s legislature “for enabling Russia’s sham referenda and attempt to annex sovereign Ukrainian territory.”
The United Kingdom sanctioned Russia’s Central Bank Governor Elvira Nabiullina, imposing an asset freeze and travel ban. Britain also imposed new services and goods export bans, targeted at “vulnerable sectors of the Russian economy.”
In response to Russia’s annexation, Ukraine announced it was formally submitting an application to join the NATO military alliance, which has supported Kyiv with weapons throughout the seven-month-long war.
Since the Feb. 24 invasion began, Canada has slapped sanctions on 1,400 additional individuals and entities from and in Russia, Ukraine and Belarus. Before then, Ottawa had imposed penalties on more than 1,800 individuals and entities since 2014, when Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimea region.
— with files from Reuters