Canada is sending more military aid to Ukraine and imposing new sanctions on Russian officials, as Justin Trudeau took aim at Vladimir Putin for the President’s “illegal and unjustifiable actions” on the first anniversary of Moscow’s invasion.
The Prime Minister, together with Defence Minister Anita Anand, announced the additional military support and latest round of sanctions at Fort York armoury in Toronto on Friday alongside members of the Canadian Armed Forces.
“Vladimir Putin made a grave miscalculation when he launched his war of aggression. He underestimated Ukrainians and he underestimated the solidarity of their friends around the world,” Mr. Trudeau said.
“Putin is dangerous, he is cowardly and he is weak. His brazen disregard for human life, his irresponsible rhetoric and his willingness to inflict terrible violence on innocent people may seem to have no limits. But what is truly without limits is the courage and resolve of those who fight every day for their freedom.”
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Ms. Anand said Mr. Putin thought the world would stand by and watch as Russia invaded Ukraine, and that Kyiv would fall. Ukraine’s military has since retaken thousands of square kilometres of territory, she said. “He thought Ukraine would surrender. He was wrong.”
The new equipment announced Friday includes four additional Leopard 2 main battle tanks, for a total of eight tanks promised by Canada so far, as well as an armoured recovery vehicle and more than 5,000 rounds of 155 mm ammunition to help Ukraine’s armed forces “continue to defend their freedom,” Mr. Trudeau said.
The government said the four previously announced Leopard 2 tanks have been delivered to Poland, and a Canadian Forces team is currently training Ukrainian tank crews to use them.
To date, Canada has provided $5-billion in military and non-military aid to Ukraine, Mr. Trudeau said.
Canada is imposing new sanctions on 129 individuals and 63 entities, including members of the lower house of Russia’s parliament who have voted in favour of legislation related to the invasion and attempted annexation of four regions of Ukraine.
Others on the list include Russian deputy prime ministers, ministers and others in Mr. Putin’s office and the Russian military, as well as family members of those previously hit by sanctions.
The government is placing sanctions on seven Russians and 50 entities involved in Russia’s defence industry, including the production of tanks, missiles and weapons systems that Russia is using in Ukraine. In addition, Ottawa is banning the export of certain chemical elements used in electronics to Russia, and banning the import, purchase, or acquisition of Russian arms, ammunition and other weapons from Russia or from any person in Russia.
In September, Canada announced it was putting sanctions on 43 Russian oligarchs, financial elites and their families and 35 Russia-backed senior officials in four occupied regions of Ukraine.
Recently, the House of Commons foreign affairs committee said it wants the Trudeau government to report to Parliament on a regular basis about whether its sanctions regime is actually working. The MPs agreed on asking Ottawa to advance its work on punishing Russia in international tribunals for its invasion of Ukraine, and to send Russian diplomats packing when they go beyond the normal duties of international relations.
Ottawa said Friday that it is also combatting “Russian and Belarusian deception” on unfair trade practices to ensure Canada Border Services Agency has the tools to protect Canadian producers from competing against foreign-government price distortions on imports. “We are calling out those countries for intervening to artificially lower the price of their goods,” the government said in a release.
Meanwhile, Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly announced more than $32-million for Ukraine “in support of security and stabilization in the country,” including demining efforts, as well as countering chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear threats “that jeopardize the safety of the entire region.”
On Friday, Mr. Trudeau criticized Russia’s global disinformation campaign about the war. “It’s absolutely no surprise that Russia is spreading lies around the world, because the truth is so damning to them,” he said.
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