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French authorities intercepted the Russian-owned commercial ship 'Baltic Leader' in the strait of Pas-de-Calais on Feb. 26. The Canadian government has placed a ban on Russian ships as Russia's invasion of Ukraine continues.Sylvain Lefevre/Getty Images

Ottawa is banning Russian-owned and registered ships from Canadian ports and waters.

Transport Minister Omar Alghabra said Tuesday that the ban will take effect later this week under the Special Economic Measures Act.

“We are taking steps to close Canadian ports and internal waters to Russian-owned or registered ships. The Government of Canada condemns Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and we will continue to take action to stand with Ukraine,” he said in a statement.

Canada banned Aeroflot, Russia’s flagship carrier, from Canadian airspace Sunday – though an Aeroflot plane violated the ban just a few hours later.

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The Canadian Coast Guard will instruct Russian ships not to enter Canadian internal waters.

Mr. Alghabra predicted the measure “will have significant economic impact” on ships that are either flagged by Russia or owned by Russians, but said only a small number of ships will be affected.

”At the end of the day, this is part of a comprehensive measure, and it’s important morally, economically, to stop the aggression that’s going on in Ukraine,” he said. ”We will work with industry and stakeholders to ensure – to mitigate and find alternatives, but there’s a moral imperative for us to do this.”

Britain also announced Tuesday that it had passed a law banning all ships with any connection to Russia from entering its ports. European Union countries are also considering such a ban, as the West tightens its economic sanctions against Moscow.

Former Royal Canadian Navy vice-admiral Mark Norman said Canada can easily track Russian ships if they have their automatic tracking systems on. If they turn them off, Canada can use satellites and surveillance aircraft to identify Russian vessels.

“If necessary, it may require some degree of enforcement which would require having either Coast Guard [or] Navy vessels,” he said.

Mr. Norman said he didn’t think there were a lot of Russian vessels in Canadian waters, but other shipping companies may be working for Russia.

“What other ship owners are acting on behalf of Russian commercial interests? It doesn’t have to be a Russian ship to support Russian commercial activity,” he said. “So if you want to shut down Russian commercial activity, then you may have to look more broadly at vessels carrying Russian cargo.”

Russian artillery bombarded residential districts of Ukraine's second largest city Kharkiv on Monday as Moscow's invading forces met stiff resistance from Ukrainians on a fifth day of conflict. Also on Monday, President Volodymyr Zelensky made a plea for immediate membership of the European Union.

Reuters


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