(OTTAWA) Canada will sanction 10 “accomplices” in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced on the first day of a trip to Europe on Monday.
They are former and current senior Russian officials, oligarchs and close associates of the regime.
Among them are Health Minister Mikhail Murashko, Agriculture Minister Dmitry Patrushev, TV presenter Vladimir Solovyov, editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan, billionaire businessman Oleg Deripaska, former minister of Justice Pavel Krasheninnikov, the big boss of Russian public television Konstantin Ernst and the spokesman of the Kremlin Dmitry Peskov.
Their names come from a list compiled by imprisoned Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, Trudeau told a press conference in London alongside British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and their Dutch counterpart, Mark Rutte. .
“These sanctions are intended to increase pressure on Russian authorities, including Vladimir Putin’s inner circle,” Trudeau said. The work we do together is to punish Putin and his enablers where it hurts the most, including crippling their financial system and sanctioning their central bank. »
Canada and NATO countries have increased financial sanctions against Russia since President Vladimir Putin decided to invade Ukraine.
Asked about their effectiveness, Mr. Trudeau replied that “barely a week ago” many countries did not even believe that it was in the cards to exclude Russian banks from the SWIFT system and to attack the ability of the Russian central bank to draw on its reserves.
“And yet, to see how democracies around the world have resisted and responded, I think it’s a surprise to Putin, and perhaps a bit of a surprise to all of us too, that we can actually resist and push very strong for the principles that drive us,” he noted.
The Dutch Prime Minister for his part acknowledged that “the sanctions, so far, have not had the desired effect […] to stop the invasion”, but assured that they will have a long-term impact.
In a trilateral statement, the leaders of Canada, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands urge Russia to respect international humanitarian law and human rights laws.
They also ask Moscow to “immediately implement a ceasefire to allow the safe passage of civilians as well as the supply of food and medicine”.
Canada is considering increasing defense funding, Trudeau said, noting that this could happen as early as “the upcoming budget.”
“We are looking carefully at the needs and the reality of the situation,” he said. We are thinking about the investments that we must make, but we recognize how important it is to ensure that our armed forces have the necessary tools to protect Canada and participate fully in NATO missions. »
National Defense mentions in a recent report that it expects total military spending as a percentage of GDP to increase to 1.57% by 2024-2025, which is below the 2% target set by NATO.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he wanted to avoid commenting on “Canada’s approach” when questioned on the subject. However, he recalled in passing that his country devotes 2.4% of its GDP to defense and that “the world is changing”.
Mr. Trudeau once again refused to say whether Canada is ready to increase its oil exports.
“We’re going to have to adjust, make sure we’re there for each other,” he repeated.
The Netherlands is “still very dependent” on Russian oil and gas, Prime Minister Rutte said earlier.
According to him, it is essential to find “substitute supplies from elsewhere” and this must be done “together through the coalition of countries which are condemning Putin’s actions”.
Prime Minister Johnson, for his part, mentioned that “everyone sees what is happening with the price of gasoline” and that he wants to do everything possible to protect consumers.
The United Kingdom is studying the possibility of increasing its production of hydrocarbons.
Mr Johnson said the country needs to use more nuclear energy and “much more” renewable energy in the immediate term.
Prime Minister Trudeau met in the morning with Queen Elizabeth II at Windsor Castle.
In the coming days, he will also meet with other leaders in Riga, Latvia, Berlin, Germany, and Warsaw, Poland.
The Prime Minister’s busy agenda also includes a meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.