WARSAW, Poland — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau concluded a week-long trip to Europe on Friday by imposing new sanctions on Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich, who has become an international figurehead for the largesse that enabled the war in President Vladimir Putin against Ukraine.
Abramovich is a major shareholder in Evraz, a British multinational manufacturing company that operates a steel mill in Regina. Britain also sanctioned Abramovich on Thursday as pressure continued to mount on Boris Johnson’s government to bring down the hammer on the owner of his famed Chelsea football club. Abramovich sent his super yacht to the Mediterranean Sea this week to avoid being seized.
Abramovich is one of five new Russian oligarchs added to Canada’s sanctions list for their close ties to Putin as Trudeau ended a trip to four European countries.
Their assets will be frozen and restrictions imposed on 32 military entities in Russia, Trudeau said in Warsaw ahead of his scheduled departure on Friday, as Russia’s war on Ukraine appeared to be entering a worrying new phase. The airstrikes on towns in western Ukraine signaled an attempt by his forces to expand their attack beyond other parts of the country further north and south.
Trudeau also traveled to London, Berlin and Riga, Latvia to meet with leaders to step up pressure on Russia to end its invasion of Ukraine. Their measures included sanctions, tightening the economic noose around the necks of Putin and his enablers, and sending new weapons to Ukrainian military and civilian fighters who have so far defied the odds in fending off the assault of the largest military force in Europe.
Trudeau gained deeper insight into Putin’s state of mind during a three-hour dinner in Berlin with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Wednesday, a senior official told The Canadian Press on condition of anonymity as they were not allowed to speak publicly. Trudeau has not spoken to Putin directly since the February 24 invasion, but Scholz had a conversation with the Russian leader the same day, one of the few Western leaders to have spoken to Putin.
Trudeau was able to have a secure chat with the leader of Europe’s largest economy, which allowed for an exchange of intelligence, the official said.
Trudeau spoke on Friday of a central theme in his allies’ conversations with Putin “what he wants, what is the endgame” rather than focusing on “his deeper motivations and rationales.”
He said the leaders were trying to impress on Putin that “what he is doing is not going to bring benefits for him or for the Russian people. On the contrary, it set back Russia’s path.
G7 leaders issued a joint statement Friday in support of Ukraine, calling for an immediate ceasefire and the withdrawal of Russian troops and promising new sanctions and economic policies targeting the Russian economy.
“We are united in our resolve to hold President Putin and his regime accountable for this unwarranted and unprovoked war that has already isolated Russia in the world,” they said.
This includes denying Russia “most favored nation” status for trade, which would prevent Russia from exporting goods to the G7 at favorable tariff rates. Canada already revoked that status for Russia and Belarus on March 3, and the G7 statement says a broad coalition of World Trade Organization members will follow shortly.
The leaders said they were also pushing global financial institutions, including the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, not to provide funding to Russia.
“Russia cannot grossly violate international law and expect to benefit from its membership in the international economic order,” the statement said.
The G7 includes the United States, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and Canada.
However, Trudeau and his allies have been unable to give Ukrainian leaders the one thing they want to protect their civilian population who have been pounded by Russian bombs for more than two weeks: a no-fly zone. . Western politicians, NATO leaders and the Trudeau government all say a no-fly zone would lead to an all-out air war between them and the alliance.
Canadians will soon be able to hear directly from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who has agreed to address Parliament on March 15. House Speaker Anthony Rota has confirmed that the Speaker will deliver a video address at 11:15 a.m. EST
Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland noted this week as she stood near Berlin’s Cold War symbol of freedom, the Brandenburg Gate: “They are fighting for all of us. But they fight alone.
Consequently, Canada and its allies resorted to unprecedented economic warfare against Russia in the hope that Putin’s wealthy and powerful friends might turn against him, or that the pain inflicted on his citizens would drive them to one way or another to change the government.
Trudeau said the government would try to ensure sanctions against Abramovich do not harm Canadian workers at the Saskatchewan company in which he has a stake.
“Sanctions against Russian officials and oligarchs like Abramovich are directed against them so that they cannot profit or benefit from economic activities in Canada or the hard work of Canadians working with companies in which they have investments,” he said. said Trudeau.
The Prime Minister said he believed the value of the shares held by Abramovich in Evraz was less than 30%. “We will obviously be watching carefully, but we are confident that this will not impact Canadian workers who are doing good work in companies across the country.”
Trudeau also said he is considering a Canadian airlift of Ukrainian refugees who may want to leave Europe to find safe haven in Canada as the European continent bends under its worst migration crisis in decades. But he wouldn’t say when.
“I don’t rule that out at all,” Trudeau said. “We are looking at all options… Canadians want to be there for Ukrainians.
The Prime Minister came face to face with the crisis when he spent time with more than a dozen refugees at a Warsaw shelter on Thursday. Although Canada has one of the largest Ukrainian diaspora communities in the world, with 1.3 million people, many of those fleeing their country would prefer to stay in Europe so that they can return to their country of origin when the war will end.
Polish President Andrzej Duda told Trudeau that 100,000 people come from Ukraine to Poland every day, increasing its population by 1.5 million refugees. Duda said his country warmly welcomes its Ukrainian neighbors and wants to offer them refuge until they can return home.
But Duda made no attempt to hide the fact that the pressure on his country from a continued influx of Ukrainians across its eastern border was not stopping and that help from allies like Canada would be essential.
Trudeau said Friday the government would provide additional resources to support its fast-track refugee claim process for Ukrainians, which eliminates many of the normal visa requirements.
This report from The Canadian Press was first published on March 11, 2022.
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