Skip to main content
Open this photo in gallery:

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks during a news conference in Warsaw, Poland, on March 11.Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press

Ottawa put sanctions on Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich on Friday, but said the move won’t affect the Canadian operations of Evraz North America, which supplies much of the steel for the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.

Mr. Abramovich is the No. 1 target for sanctions recommended by jailed Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny. On Friday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Mr. Abramovich and four others, who enabled Mr. Navalny’s detention and work to prop up Vladimir Putin’s regime, were hit with an assets freeze and banned from doing business in Canada.

Russia-Ukraine live updates

British sanctions on Roman Abramovich cloud Evraz North America’s operations in Canada

Speaking in Warsaw on Friday, Mr. Trudeau said the federal government is also barring 32 Russian companies and government entities from receiving any defence equipment or supplies from Canada.

The government said those entities enabled or supported Mr. Putin’s “unprovoked and unjustified invasion of Ukraine” and the individuals are complicit in the military assault.

“This is part of us moving together with allies around the world on demonstrating clear and deep consequences for Putin and those who have enabled his regime,” Mr. Trudeau told reporters on Friday.

The sanctions against Mr. Abramovich come the day after Britain took the same move. The billionaire is well known for his ownership of England’s Chelsea Football Club, but he also owns more than 28 per cent of London-based Evraz PLC, which wholly owns the subsidiary Evraz North America.

The subsidiary operates steel-production sites in the United States and Canada, including locations in Regina and the Alberta cities of Calgary, Camrose and Red Deer. It supplies 58 per cent of the steel being used to build the $21.4-billion Trans Mountain Expansion Project, which is twinning the 1,150-kilometre Trans Mountain pipeline carrying petroleum to British Columbia from Alberta. The project also includes expanding the Burnaby, B.C.-based Westridge Marine Terminal through which crude oil is shipped abroad.

Mr. Trudeau said the company operations would continue because the sanctions are targeted at Mr. Abramovich and not Evraz North America. The billionaire “cannot profit or benefit from economic activities in Canada,” the Prime Minister said.

“We are confident that this will not impact the hard-working Canadians who are doing good work in companies across the country,” Mr. Trudeau said.

The sanctions mean Mr. Abramovich can’t sell his shares in the company or do anything else with the shares, said Ann-Clara Vaillancourt, the Prime Minister’s spokesperson.

In the past week, the federal government has placed sanctions on 15 of the 35 people recommended by Mr. Navalny. Others on the list were previously punished with sanctions by Ottawa.

A letter last year from the now-disbanded Anti-Corruption Foundation, sent on behalf of Mr. Navalny, describes Mr. Abramovich as “one of the key enablers and beneficiaries of the Kremlin’s kleptocracy.”

Also hit with sanctions Friday were billionaire Alisher Usmanov; Judge Elena Morozova, who jailed Mr. Navalny; Igor Yanchuk, the head of the police department responsible for the Kremlin critic’s arrest; and electoral commission chief Ella Pamfilova, who has “legitimized the Kremlin’s unfree and unfair elections.”

Mr. Usmanov is a Russian oligarch who made his fortune in metals and telecoms. The billionaire is a long-time ally of Mr. Putin and has already been under sanctions from the European Union, Britain and the United States.

Mr. Trudeau ended his five-day trip to Europe in Poland on Friday. He flies back to Ottawa after holding meetings with 13 world leaders, including British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, U.S. Vice-President Kamala Harris and NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg.

The Prime Minister said during those talks he and European leaders discussed whether Canada can help replace the oil and gas Europe currently gets from Russia. But the Prime Minister acknowledged it is not a short-term fix.

“Canada does not actually have the oil and gas infrastructures necessary to replace the significant share of European energy that is received from Russia,” he said.

However, he said they are having conversations about not only “getting them off of Russian oil and gas” but also ending the dependence on fossil fuels entirely.

Mr. Trudeau said they talked about transitioning to hydrogen fuel and other renewables.

He said he believes that the sanctions levelled by the West on Russia are helping to make a difference.

“Vladimir Putin has made a terrible mistake and will end up losing despite how many bombs he can drop on hospitals,” Mr. Trudeau said. “There is no win in this for him, however long it takes.”

On Ukrainian refugees, the Prime Minister said his government hasn’t ruled out airlifts to Canada, but he was noncommittal on whether those trips would happen and gave no timeline for a decision.

On Thursday, the Prime Minister met with Polish President Andrzej Duda. After the meeting, the President told reporters that the two leaders had discussed an air bridge to Canada. Mr. Duda said the issue was negotiating logistics such as who would provide the planes for such trips.

With reports from Steven Chase and Kathryn Blaze-Baum.

For subscribers only: Get exclusive political news and analysis by signing up for the Politics Briefing.

Follow related authors and topics

Authors and topics you follow will be added to your personal news feed in Following.

Interact with The Globe