OTTAWA—The federal government on Tuesday pledged to send heavy artillery to Ukraine hours after announcing a fresh round of sanctions against 14 individuals with close ties to the Kremlin.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promised to heed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s call to allies to supply Kyiv with more military aid, telling reporters Tuesday afternoon that Canada would send heavy artillery to the region, with more details expected in the “coming weeks.”
In a video posted on Twitter last week, Zelenskyy appealed to western nations to send heavy artillery weapons, vehicles, air defence systems and combat aircraft — “anything to repel Russian forces and stop their war crimes.”
On Tuesday, Russia poured more troops into eastern Ukraine and attacked towns and cities along a front stretching more than 480 kilometres from north to south. It’s the latest in the battle for control of the Donbas, Ukraine’s eastern industrial heartland. And if Russia is successful, it would essentially slice Ukraine in two and give Russian President Vladimir Putin a badly needed victory following the failed attempt by Moscow’s forces to storm the capital, Kyiv, and heavier-than-expected casualties nearly two months into the war.
Trudeau’s pledge followed a morning call with U.S. President Joe Biden and leaders of France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Poland, Romania and United Kingdom. Leaders from NATO, the European Commission and the European Council also took part in the virtual meeting.
“The leaders denounced Russia’s war crimes and brutality in Ukraine, and promised to hold Russia accountable for its actions, including through the International Criminal Court. They emphasized the importance of allies maintaining the strong, united stand they have taken in support of Ukraine,” stated a readout of the call from the Prime Minister’s Office.
“Prime Minister Trudeau emphasized the strength and unity of the NATO alliance. The leaders agreed to a common approach in supporting Ukraine as it enters the next phase of the war and agreed to continue co-ordinating closely.”
Biden and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson have also vowed to boost weapons supplies to Ukraine as it weathers intensifying bombardments from Russian forces.
Earlier Tuesday, Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly announced new sanctions against “close associates of the Russian regime,” including a number of oligarchs and their family members.
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Canada has now joined the U.S. and U.K. in sanctioning Putin’s two adult daughters, Katerina Tikhonova and Maria Vorontsova.
When the U.S. unveiled sanctions against the pair earlier this month, officials identified Tikhonova as a tech executive and Vorontsova as a leader of “state-funded programs that have received billions of dollars from the Kremlin toward genetics research.”
Russian central bank governor Elvira Nabiullina and Maria Lavrova, wife of Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, were also added to Canada’s sanctions list.
“These actions demonstrate that Canada will not relent in holding Russian President Vladimir Putin and his associates accountable for their complicity in the Russian regime’s invasion of Ukraine,” a statement from Global Affairs Canada read.
The sanctions will “impose asset freezes and prohibitions” on the listed individuals. Canada has now taken action against more than 750 people and entities from Russia, Ukraine and Belarus since the invasion began in late February.
In what both sides described as a new phase of the war, the Russian assault began Monday. Ukraine’s military said Russian forces tried to “break through our defences along nearly the entire front line.”
Weeks ago, after the abortive Russian push to take Kyiv, the Kremlin declared that its main goal was the capture of the mostly Russian-speaking Donbas, where Moscow-backed separatists have been fighting Ukrainian forces for eight years.
With files from The Associated Press
Raisa Patel is an Ottawa-based reporter covering federal politics for the Star. Follow her on Twitter: @R_SPatel
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