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Sunday, December 04, 2022

Canada takes direction from Putin rival to sanction 10 more Russians over Ukraine

LONDON — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced sanctions against 10 more prominent Russians Monday as he stood shoulder to shoulder with his British and Dutch counterparts and condemned Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

The new sanctions came on the first stop of a four-country tour of Europe, as Trudeau meets allies from across the continent to discuss and co-ordinate the West’s response to Russia’s invasion.

Following a visit to a British military base near London, Trudeau joined British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Dutch leader Mark Rutte at 10 Downing Street to publicly denounce Russian President Vladimir Putin’s attack on Ukraine.

They also unveiled more support for Kyiv and punishments on Russia, with Trudeau taking a clear jab at Putin by revealing that those targeted by Canada’s latest round of sanctions had been drawn from a list compiled by the Russian leader’s main rival.

“This includes former and current senior government officials, oligarchs and supporters of Russian leadership,” Trudeau said during a news conference with Johnson and Rutte.

“The names of these individuals come from a list compiled by jailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny. The sanctions put increased pressure on Russia’s leadership, including on Putin’s inner circle.”

Navalny is currently in a Russian prison on what many believe are politically motivated charges after surviving an attempted poisoning in 2020 that many have blamed on Putin and his cronies. The Russian leader has denied any involvement.

Trudeau announced Canada’s new sanctions as Johnson unveiled more than $200 million in additional aid for Ukraine. The three leaders acknowledged the economic pressure sanctions are having in their own countries, but insisted on the need to stop Russia.

The three leaders also acknowledged the need to increase defense spending in response to both Russia’s actions and growing instability around the world.

Asked whether Canada would increase its spending to meet NATO’s two per cent of GDP target, as Germany has recently announced, Trudeau noted that his government has previously promised billions of dollars for the Canadian military.

But the prime minister also acknowledged the world has changed since his government released its defense policy in 2017, and that more may be needed.

The news conference at 10 Downing came hours after Trudeau, Johnson and Rutte put on a show of solidarity with besieged Ukraine at a historic military base that helped defend Britain during the Second World War.

“We want to stand with the Ukrainian people and push back hard against Russia,” Trudeau said after arriving at the Royal Air Force Station Northolt outside of London.

Trudeau met with each leader separately before they all met together to strategize on the response of NATO countries to the conflict. The leaders all spoke of the unified response to Russia, and Trudeau said he also wanted “to talk about countering misinformation.”

They spoke inside an officers mess building outside a vast airfield that was also a base for the Polish Air Force and played a pivotal role in the Battle of Britain.

The Polish squadron registered the most shootdowns of Nazi aircraft on flights out of the base during the course of the epic battle. Rutte and Johnson both acknowledged the role the base played in the Second World War.

Canada, Britain and their NATO allies have rejected desperate Ukrainian pleas for a no-fly zone to protect their civilians from Russian bombardment because they fear it could start a new world war if they engage with Russian planes.

An adviser to the Ukrainian president said Monday a fourth round of talks with Russia would begin later in the day as the Russian bombardment entered its 12th day, inflicting upwards of 360 civilian casualties.

Trudeau also had an audience with the Queen at Windsor Castle Monday. This was the Queen’s first in-person audience with a leader since she tested positive for COVID-19 on Feb. 20. Trudeau said she was very insightful as they discussed the current global situation.

Trudeau’s domestic problems followed him overseas as protesters greeted him outside 10 Downing Street cursing at him and waving Canadian flags and placards calling for the release of Tamara Lich, one of the organizers of last month’s trucker protests in Ottawa.

In the following days, Trudeau will also be meeting with other leaders in Riga, Latvia, Berlin and Warsaw, Poland.

The prime minister’s agenda in Europe also includes a meeting with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg and a visit to the Latvian military base where hundreds of Canadian Forces personnel are contributing to Canada’s leadership in that country of NATO’s long-standing deterrence mission to bolster its eastern European flank against Russia.

Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly has been in Europe over the past few days in meetings with NATO and European Commission officials about ongoing efforts to sanction Russia.

International Development Minister Harjit Sajjan will also travel to Geneva and then join Trudeau in eastern Europe to meet with the United Nations and others for talks on Ukraine.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 7, 2022.

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With files from The Associated Press

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