Ottawa agrees to send heavy artillery to Ukraine

OTTAWA – The federal government promised on Tuesday to send heavy artillery to Ukraine, hours after announcing a new round of sanctions against 14 people with close ties to the Kremlin.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promised to heed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s appeal to allies to provide Kiev with more military aid.

In a video Zelenskyy, posted to Twitter last week, called on Western countries to send heavy artillery weapons, vehicles, air defense systems and combat aircraft — “anything to fend off Russian troops and stop their war crimes.”

On Tuesday, Russia plunged more troops into eastern Ukraine, attacking towns and villages along a front stretching more than 480 kilometers from north to south. It is the latest in the battle for control of the Donbas, the eastern industrial heart of Ukraine. And if Russia is successful, it would essentially cut Ukraine in half and give Russian President Vladimir Putin a much-needed victory after Moscow forces’ failed attempt to storm the capital Kiev, and more than expected casualties, nearly two months after the collapse. war .

Trudeau’s pledge followed a morning meeting with US President Joe Biden and leaders of France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Poland, Romania and the United Kingdom. Leaders from NATO, the European Commission and the European Council also took part in the virtual meeting.

“Leaders denounced Russian war crimes and atrocities in Ukraine, and pledged to hold Russia accountable for its actions, including through the International Criminal Court. They stressed the importance of allies upholding the strong, united stance they have taken in support of Ukraine,” read a reading of the appeal from the prime minister’s cabinet.

Prime Minister Trudeau emphasized the strength and unity of the NATO alliance. The leaders agreed on a common approach to support Ukraine as it enters the next phase of the war and agreed to continue to work closely together.”

Biden and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson have also vowed to ramp up arms deliveries to Ukraine as the country weathers heavy bombing by Russian troops.

Earlier Tuesday, Foreign Minister Mélanie Joly announced new sanctions against “close associates of the Russian regime”, including some oligarchs and their relatives.

Canada has now joined the US and UK in punishing Putin’s two adult daughters, Katerina Tikhonova and Maria Vorontsova.

When the US announced sanctions against the pair earlier this month, officials identified Tikhonova as a technical director and Vorontsova as a leader of “state-funded programs that have received billions of dollars from the Kremlin for genetic 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 admit to holding Russian President Vladimir Putin and his associates responsible for their complicity in the Russian regime’s invasion of Ukraine,” a statement from Global Affairs Canada reads.

The sanctions will “freeze assets and impose bans” on the said 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 describe as a new phase of the war, the Russian attack began on Monday. The Ukrainian army said Russian troops were trying to “break through our defenses along almost the entire front line”.

Weeks ago, after the failed Russian attempt to take Kiev, the Kremlin declared its main aim was to capture the largely Russian-speaking Donbas, where Moscow-backed separatists had been battling Ukrainian forces for eight years.

With files from The Associated Press

RP

Raisa Patel is an Ottawa-based reporter who covers federal politics for the Star. Follow her on Twitter: @R_SPatel

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