Canada will send heavy artillery to Ukraine, Trudeau pledges

·4 min read

OTTAWA — Canada will send heavy artillery to Ukraine, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Tuesday as he praised the embattled country's fight for democratic values.

Trudeau said he has been in close contact with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and "we’re very responsive to what it is that they need most specifically."

He promised more details on the pledge in the days to come.

Ukrainians have "fought like heroes" against Russian invaders, Trudeau said in Dalhousie, N.B., where he made a long-term care funding announcement.

"They’re fighting for the values that underpin so many of our free, democratic societies," he said. "Which is why the world needs to continue to step up, why Canada is continuing to stand with Ukraine — to stand against Russia, but also ensure that this conflict doesn’t escalate to elsewhere."

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said in a tweet Tuesday that his country will be supplying armoured vehicles to Ukraine, following a call with Zelenskyy. "Along with allies, we are looking into supplying additional heavy materiel," Rutte wrote.

Trudeau spoke with NATO and European leaders Tuesday at a virtual meeting organized by U.S. President Joe Biden.

The group discussed its ongoing support for Ukraine and economic sanctions against Russia, and committed to continue working with and through the EU, G7 and NATO, according to the White House.

Canada imposed sanctions Tuesday on another 14 Russians with close ties to President Vladimir Putin, including his two adult daughters, Maria Vorontsova, 36, and her 35-year-old sister Katerina Tikhonova.

The federal government says they face sanctions as close associates of Putin who are complicit in Russia's unjustifiable invasion of Ukraine.

"This Russian regime and its associates need to continue to be held accountable for their actions," Trudeau said.

Global Affairs Canada said in a news release that a report delivered by Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe experts last week "confirmed that the Russian forces are committing serious atrocities and human rights violations in Ukraine, including war crimes and likely crimes against humanity."

The United States and European Union have targeted the sisters and other Putin family members, saying they believe the Russian leader has hidden assets with them.

Putin is extremely private about his personal life, avoiding mention of his children in public.

“I never discuss my family with anyone,” Putin told reporters at a 2015 news conference, according to the BBC.

Putin married Lyudmila Shkrebneva in the 1980s when he was a KGB agent and she was an Aeroflot flight attendant. They divorced three decades later.

Oldest daughter Maria is a medical researcher and reportedly a businesswoman and developer.

Younger daughter Katerina was a competitive dancer turned tech developer, appearing publicly at performances and in occasional tech conferences.

So far, sanctions have not been imposed on the woman named in news reports as Putin’s longtime romantic partner. Photos from public appearances document years of Putin beaming at Alina Kabaeva, a former Olympic gymnast.

Kabaeva became a lawmaker in the Duma and later a board member of a Russian national media company, whose news outlets have promoted Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. As British tabloids noted, Kabaeva’s photo and name recently disappeared from the website of the National Media Group as sanctions on Putin’s intimates neared.

Following Russia's attack that began Feb. 24, Canada has imposed sanctions on more than 700 individuals and entities from Russia, Ukraine and Belarus.

Last week, sanctions targeted organizations that have provided support to the Russian military — directly or indirectly — including the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology, Integral SPB and Shipyard Vympel JSC.

The EU has introduced a series of sanctions as well, targeting Russia’s lucrative energy industry with an embargo on coal imports, along with a transaction ban on four key Russian banks representing 23 per cent of market share in the Russian banking sector.

The 27-nation bloc also banned vessels registered under the Russian flag from EU ports, with an exception for agricultural and food products, humanitarian aid and energy.

Since Russia's annexation of Crimea in 2014, Canada has levied sanctions on more than 1,100 individuals and entities.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 19, 2022.

— With files from Jordan Press and The Associated Press

Sarah Ritchie, The Canadian Press

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