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Minister of Foreign affairs John Baird holds a press conference at the National Press Theatre in Ottawa on Friday, Dec. 19, 2014. (Sean Kilpatrick/THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Minister of Foreign affairs John Baird holds a press conference at the National Press Theatre in Ottawa on Friday, Dec. 19, 2014. (Sean Kilpatrick/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Canada to impose more economic sanctions, travel bans against Russians Add to ...

Canada is imposing new sanctions on the crumbling Russian economy, and especially its crucial energy sector, as the federal Conservative government applies further pressure on President Vladimir Putin to stop funding military incursions into Ukraine.

Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird told reporters on Friday the sanctions are necessary because there is a “militaristic leader in the Kremlin who has single-handedly tried to redraw the borders of Europe.”

Canada is introducing travel bans against 11 more Russians and nine people from Ukraine, Mr. Baird said. There are also new restrictions on the export of technology used in Russia’s oil sector and further definitions of existing debt and equity financing prohibitions.

“The sanctions we have taken to date, in close collaboration with our allies and partners, are putting real economic pressure on the Russian Federation to cease military aggression in sovereign Ukrainian territory,” Mr. Baird said.

The Canadian sanctions complement measures imposed this week by the European Union and the United States.

Tensions between the Russian President and his counterparts in the West have been high since Mr. Putin’s takeover of Crimea earlier this year and his subsequent backing of armed separatists in eastern Ukraine. But recent economic instability in Russia, including a sharp drop in the value of the ruble and high interest rates, have Western leaders hoping new sanctions will exacerbate Russia’s financial woes and cause the populace to demand a shift in foreign policy.

“Russians are paying for their leader’s reckless aggression,” Mr. Baird said. “The ruble’s dive should be enough to give President Putin and his backers pause. If he wants to turn his economy around, he must pull out of Ukraine and he must return Crimea, and he must respect the international order that makes us a family of nations.”

U.S. President Barack Obama announced his own trade ban on Crimea on Friday, prohibiting the export of U.S. goods or services to the peninsula. He also barred imports of Crimean goods to the United States.

On Thursday, the European Union imposed sanctions specifically targeting investment in Crimea and the city of Sevastopol.

But German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier told the German weekly Der Spiegel he fears new sanctions against Moscow could destabilize Russia and warned against “turning the screw” any further.

Jeff Sahadeo, an expert on Russia and central Asia who teaches at Carleton University in Ottawa, said new sanctions are unlikely to help the Western cause and could make the Russians more aggressive.

The banking restrictions could make it more difficult for oligarchs and wealthier Russians to move money, Prof. Sahadeo said, and the technology sanctions could complicate business for the energy sector. But they also “play into the narrative that Mr. Putin has created about a West that is trying to chain Russia,” he said. “And that, for Mr. Putin, is much more advantageous in terms of popular support.” Prime Minister Stephen Harper has made the Ukraine crisis a central focus of foreign policy this year.

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