Updating Canadians on Canada’s response to Russia’s attack on Ukraine
I’m here today with Deputy Minister Freeland and Ministers Anand, Fraser and Wilkinson to talk about what we’re continuing to do to support Ukrainians.
Over the weekend, President Putin continued his brutal assault on Ukraine, but Ukrainians have held strong. The whole world is inspired by the strength and intensity of their resistance, and Canada will continue to deliver support for Ukraine's heroic defense against the Russian military.
Yesterday we announced that we would be sending new shipments of military supplies, including body armour, helmets, gas masks, and night vision goggles. Today we are announcing that we will be supplying Ukraine with anti-tank weapons systems and upgraded ammunition. Of course, this is in addition to our three previous shipments of lethal and nonlethal equipment.
It's encouraging to see so many of our partners also stepping up to deliver support and equipment to Ukraine. The international community is rallying to support democracy and the people of Ukraine. The Canadian Armed Forces will also be providing airlift support to transport supplies and aid, and to contribute to other NATO efforts.
Since this assault began, thousands of Ukrainian families have been fleeing to escape the violence. President Putin has created a refugee crisis. We’ve said we would be there for the people of Ukraine, and that includes making sure they can find safety here in Canada. We have bolstered our presence in the region and are fast-tracking immigration applications for Ukrainians who want to come to Canada.
While we provide support to Ukraine, we’re also continuing to work with our allies and partners to make sure that Russian aggression does not go unpunished. Over the last few days, I’ve had conversations with a number of world leaders, including President Biden as well as G7 members and other European partners. We talked about how the situation is evolving and our coordinated actions. Together we’re continuing to take new actions to hold President Putin and his oligarchs to account and weaken Russia’s ability to finance this war they’ve chosen.
On Saturday, alongside our allies and partners, we announced our support for removing several major Russian banks from the SWIFT payment system. This will leave these banks effectively disconnected from the international financial system. And to prevent the Russian Central Bank from undermining the impact of our sanctions, we are paralyzing its international reserve assets. As of this morning, Canadian financial institutions are barred from any transactions with the Russian Central Bank, and we are prohibiting any direct or indirect dealings in Russian sovereign debt.
Today, we’re also announcing our intention to ban all imports of crude oil from Russia, an industry that has benefited President Putin and his oligarchs greatly. This industry accounts for more than a third of Russia’s federal budget revenues, and while Canada has imported very little amounts in recent years, this measure sends a powerful message.
In addition, we’re ensuring that those who are complicit in President Putin’s atrocities cannot escape the consequences of their actions. That’s why we have announced that we will prevent Russian oligarchs from using their wealth to buy citizenship abroad and avoid the consequences of sanctions.
The Russian government is now experiencing the severity of our coordinated sanctions. It is increasingly clear that President Putin has made a grave miscalculation. Today the ruble plunged to record lows and the Russian stock market was forced to close. People across Russia and around the world are taking to the streets demanding freedom for Ukraine. Our message is clear: this unnecessary war must stop now. The costs will only grow steeper and those responsible will be held accountable.
In these difficult times, it’s important to continue to rely on facts. In Russia, President Putin continues to block independent media, and he is using state-controlled media to spread misinformation and propaganda about his unjustified war. We will not allow this disinformation to spread in Canada.
The CRTC is an independent body, and we will be asking them to begin the process to review Russia Today's presence on Canadian airwaves. The rigorous process is important when it comes to the independence of media in our country, but even ahead of that decision, major providers are already removing RT proactively. There is a significant amount of disinformation circulating from Russia, including on social media, and we all need to keep calling it out. Our government will continue to be a leader on this.
Those who are witnessing the truth are seeing civilians being targeted, grandparents joining the fight, families with young children sheltering in subway stations, and people fleeing to the border with only a suitcase. These images are heartbreaking, and they lay bare the human cost of war. To support relief efforts in the region, our government continues to provide humanitarian aid.
Canadians are stepping up to help Ukrainians and we're ready to match that help. So, if you donate to the Canadian Red Cross Ukraine Humanitarian Crisis Appeal, our government will match your donation, up to $10 million. This is in addition to the $50 million for development and humanitarian aid we've already committed.
To the people of Ukraine, your bravery is truly remarkable. The whole world is watching your courage and your strength. We are deeply inspired as we honour your fight for freedom, for democracy and human rights. Canada stands with you. Slava Uraini! Merci.