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Russian-backed separatists fire a mortar towards Ukrainian troops outside the village of Sanzharivka in eastern Ukraine on Wednesday. Kiev has appealed to Western allies for weapons to fight the insurgency.

Maximilian Clarke/The Associated Press

Canada warns it will increase sanctions on Russia if pro-Moscow rebels in eastern Ukraine continue to violate a ceasefire deal inked last month.

Foreign Affairs Minister Rob Nicholson vowed further action as 125 more Canadian soldiers depart for Europe to join military exercises designed to reassure NATO alliance members near Russia that they will be protected should Moscow try to seize more territory.

He also called for a "swift, transparent and independent" investigation into the assassination of Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov last Friday.

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Russia, which seized and annexed the Crimean peninsula last March, agreed to a truce in eastern Ukraine in February.

But a United Nations report released Monday talked of credible accounts of heavy weapons and foreign fighters continuing to enter Ukraine from Russia.

"We stand prepared to continue to deploy further economic and political pressure if the Putin regime doesn't abide by the agreement they signed in Minsk," Mr. Nicholson said in an interview from Paris.

"We've seen all kinds of instances of violations of the agreement."

He met French foreign minister Laurent Fabius Monday where Mr. Nicholson said he reiterated how Canada would never recognize Russia's claim to any Ukrainian territory.

"Get out, Putin," Mr. Nicholson said. "Russians, get out of Ukraine. Let's bring some stability back to that area."

Canada has imposed sanctions or travel bans on 270 individuals, companies and entities in Russian or among Ukrainian collaborators. In some cases, however, Canada has pulled its punches and imposed less than full sanctions, such as on energy firm Rosneft which has holdings in Canada.

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Canada has declined to provide lethal weapons to Ukraine as requested but has sent non-lethal aid including tactical communications gear, clothing and night vision goggles. Ottawa has previously deployed CF-18 jets to air policing in the Baltic states, assigned a frigate to a UN Maritime patrol, and contributed soldiers to training missions in Eastern Ukraine – all efforts to reassure NATO member countries in the region that the alliance will protect them should Russia attack their territory.

Canadian soldiers from the 3rd Battalion, The Royal Canadian Regiment (3 RCR), are departing from Canadian Forces Base Trenton to join other 3 RCR troops already in Europe on Operation REASSURANCE.

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