Canada to expedite new sanctions against Russia
Andrea Janus, CTVNews.ca
Published Monday, July 21, 2014 10:38AM EDT
Last Updated Monday, July 21, 2014 11:57AM EDT
Canada is expediting new sanctions on Russian individuals and entities amidst growing evidence that “Russian-backed provocateurs” are behind the downing of a Malaysia Airlines flight over Ukraine, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird announced Monday.
Baird, speaking in London where he is attending a conference, did not offer details about the nature of the sanctions, including the number of people or entities who will be targeted. Those details will be released “in the coming hours and days,” Baird told reporters.
He has also ordered officials to draw up plans for broader industry sanctions against the Russian Federation, but would not elaborate on what those would look like.
Canada has imposed sanctions on 110 individuals and entities since the onset of the crisis in Ukraine.
While the latest round of sanctions against individuals and entities was under consideration prior to the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 last week, Baird said the incident prompted him to expedite the preparation of broader industry sanctions.
“All evidence indicates Russian-backed provocateurs in Ukraine” were behind the incident, Baird told reporters.
“Their existence and this tragedy is a direct product of Russia’s military aggression and illegal occupation of Ukraine. President Putin’s continued support for armed groups in eastern Ukraine constitutes a threat to international peace and security.
“The international community must now turn the screw on the pressure being applied to the Kremlin,” Baird said.
Nearly 300 passengers and crew died when Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 went down over a field in a pro-Russia part of Ukraine last Thursday. U.S. President Barack Obama said last week that a surface-to-air missile brought the flight down, and the international community has said Russia bears some responsibility for arming separatist rebels in the region.
"Russia has armed the separatists," U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry told ABC's “This Week” on Sunday. “Russia continues to refuse to call publicly for the separatists to engage in behaviour that would lend itself to a resolution of this issue."
Baird said Monday that it is “beyond dispute that Russia has provided moral and material support to rebels in eastern Ukraine, and negligence and recklessness are important considerations when we look to assign blame.”
Asked whether Moscow has been orchestrating a cover-up of what really happened to Flight MH17, Baird responded: “I don’t know whether there’s direct command and control from the Kremlin for everything that’s going on in eastern Ukraine.
“The Russian Federation has to take some responsibility for the events that led up to this unspeakable crime. The Kremlin may not have pulled the trigger, but it certainly loaded the gun and put it in the murderer’s hand.”
Baird said he is “very, very disturbed” by reports that pro-Russian forces are not carefully preserving evidence from the crash and are blocking international investigators from gaining full access to the area. Emergency workers were still collecting bodies on Monday.
Forensic investigators from the Netherlands, which lost 192 citizens in the crash, demanded Monday that a train full of victims’ bodies be allowed to leave the rebel-held town of Torez.
In separate statement Monday, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Canada is committed to continuing to pressure on the Putin regime “in response to Russia’s provocative actions.”
“We call on President Putin to immediately order a withdrawal of his troops from the Ukrainian border, to stop the flow of weapons and militants into Ukraine, and to use Russia’s influence to persuade insurgents to lay down their weapons and renounce violence,” Harper said. “It is also imperative that investigators be given full, unimpeded access to the crash site of the downed Malaysian airliner.”
On Monday, Baird said there are two urgent priorities to focus on at the crash site. Securing the dignified repatriation of the victims’ remains, and moving forward with a “full and independent investigation.”
“There must be justice, and to have justice there must be truth,” he said.