Russia faces severe sanctions if it advances further into Ukraine: Joly


Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly says Canada will join allies in imposing severe sanctions on Russian officials if the country takes further military action to compromise Ukrainian sovereignty.

Russia has positioned about 100,000 troops across Ukraine’s borders along with tanks and other heavy artillery, stoking fears across Europe of an invasion, but Russia has denied it intends to do that.

“The recently launched diplomatic process offers Russia two options: they can choose meaningful dialogue, or severe consequences,” Joly said in Brussels on Thursday where she was meeting with her European Union counterpart Josep Borrell.

“We of course, appreciate the EU’s collaboration on many deterrence measures, including economic ones. Canada will be ready to take additional measures, particularly with respect to the financial sector.”

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On Wednesday, U.S. President Joe Biden said he expects Russian President Vladimir Putin to invade Ukraine but that he will pay a “dear price” for that.

Joly and Borrell were pressed about whether they agreed Biden’s remark that a “minor incursion” by Russia would lead to a lesser response. Biden attempted to clarify the comment, saying he was referring to non-military action such as a cyberattack and that if Russia launched a military attack “that changes everything.”

Borrell dismissed Biden’s phrasing as “nothing new” and said allies would respond in a way that would be “very costly for Russia.”

“If there is any kind of aggression against Ukraine … the warning of President Biden goes exactly the same direction in which we have been working,” said Borrell. “A threat is a threat.”

2:09 Questions remain over how much more Canada’s military can help Ukraine

Questions remain over how much more Canada’s military can help Ukraine Joly referenced Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea and its fomenting of Russian separatist forces in Ukraine’s eastern region, when she replied: “Let me be clear, first, Russia is already in Ukraine. We’re talking about a real threat of a further invasion of Ukraine. So, in that sense, like my colleague just mentioned, a threat is a threat.”

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Joly is to meet later Thursday with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, as she is wrapping her three-country tour that has included stops in Ukraine and France.

Joly had nothing new to say about whether Canada would answer the requests of Ukraine to supply weapons and military hardware. She said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is looking at “a range of options” that are based on the information she is gathering this week.

Joly’s trip is unfolding against a backdrop of other high-level meetings across Europe this week.

Russia accuses West of plotting ‘provocations’ in Ukraine Meanwhile, Russia accused the West on Thursday of plotting “provocations” in Ukraine even as it blames Moscow of planning aggressive military action in the neighboring country.

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Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova alleged that Ukrainian and Western claims of an imminent Russian attack on Ukraine were a “cover for staging large-scale provocations of their own, including those of military character.”

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“They may have extremely tragic consequences for the regional and global security,” Zakharova said.

She pointed to the delivery of weapons to Ukraine by British military transport planes in recent days, claiming that Ukraine perceives Western military assistance as a “carte blanche for a military operation in Donbas.”

2:04 Canada, allies unite in support of Ukraine to put pressure on Russia

Canada, allies unite in support of Ukraine to put pressure on Russia Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that the U.S. threat of a possible Russian cut-off from the global banking system could encourage hawkish forces in Ukraine to use force to reclaim control of the rebel east.

“It may implant false hopes in the hotheads of some representatives of the Ukrainian leadership who may decide to quietly restart a civil war in their country,” Peskov said in a conference call with reporters.

Donbas, located in eastern Ukraine, is under control of Russia-backed separatists who have fought Ukrainian forces for nearly eight years, a conflict that has killed more than 14,000 people.

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Ukraine said earlier this week that it has taken the delivery of anti-tank missiles from the U.K. It has rejected Moscow’s claims that it plans an offensive to reclaim control of separatist-held areas in the country’s eastern industrial heartland.

Ukraine’s government, the U.S. and its NATO allies have expressed intensifying concerns in recent weeks over a Russian troop buildup near Ukraine.

Moscow has repeatedly denied having plans to launch an offensive. But it has sought a set of security guarantees from the West that would exclude NATO’s expansion to Ukraine and other ex-Soviet nations and the deployment of alliance weapons there.

Washington and its allies firmly rejected Moscow’s demands in security talks last week, but kept the door open to possible further talks on arms control and confidence-building measures to reduce the potential for hostilities.

Amid the tensions, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited Ukraine Wednesday to reassure it of Western support. He traveled to Berlin on Thursday to meet with his British, French and German counterparts to discuss Ukraine and other security matters.

2:01 Trudeau says Canada will help Ukraine, short on details

Trudeau says Canada will help Ukraine, short on details The White House said Friday that U.S. intelligence officials had concluded that Russia had already deployed operatives to rebel-controlled eastern Ukraine to carry out acts of sabotage there and blame them on Ukraine in a “false-flag operation” to create a pretext for possible invasion, the claim Russia has rejected as “total disinformation.”

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In a move that further beefs up forces near Ukraine, Russia has sent an unspecified number of troops from the country’s far east to its ally Belarus, which shares a border with Ukraine, for major war games that run through Feb. 20.

Ukrainian officials have said that Moscow could use Belarusian territory to launch a potential multi-pronged invasion.

— with files from Vladimir Isachenkov of The Associated Press

© 2022 The Canadian Press

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