Canada is shutting the door on Ukraine’s beleaguered Yanukovych government, slapping travel and economic sanctions on senior government officials and supporters that Ottawa says “bear political responsibility” for the escalation in violence.
Although the Conservative government will not immediately say who, exactly, will face the additional sanctions Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced Thursday, a release says the sanctions “aim to send a strong message to the Yanukovych regime that governments cannot act with impunity.”
A source said the names of those hit with financial sanctions will be released in “due course,” when official notice is printed in the government’s Canada Gazette newspaper. As was the case when Ottawa announced its initial travel restrictions for Ukrainian officials on Jan. 28, the list of those barred from entry to Canada was not made public.
“Canada is sending a clear message to President [Viktor] Yanukovych and his supporters: You are not welcome in Canada,” Immigration Minister Chris Alexander said in a brief statement to reporters Thursday afternoon.
Ottawa’s economic sanctions intend to freeze any assets in Canada belonging to specified senior Ukrainian government officials. They also prohibit anyone in Canada or any Canadian outside Canada from making certain financial transactions – property deals, for example – on behalf of a targeted individual.
The crisis in Ukraine began last fall, after Mr. Yanukovych shunned deeper association with the European Union in favour of closer ties with Russia, which had promised a $15-billion bailout for the recession-hit Ukrainian economy.
These latest sanctions came one day after the U.S. announced an expansion of its own travel restrictions, and on the same day the EU said it would deny travel visas and freeze assets belonging to certain Ukrainian officials.
Canada has long said it is closely monitoring the unrest in Ukraine and communicating with its allies. An EU source told The Globe that European Commission President José Manuel Barroso spoke with Mr. Harper by phone on Feb. 9, to discuss developments in Ukraine and their mutual concern over the situation there.
Also Thursday, anti-government protesters who sought refuge in Canada’s embassy in Kiev remained inside – even after the mission shuttered and staff had moved to an undisclosed location to more safely carry out their work.
With a report from Josh Wingrove in Ottawa