Canada ratchets up sanctions against Russia, cancels export permits

FILE PHOTO: Government leaders speak after police ended three weeks of occupation by protesters in Ottawa

By Steve Scherer and Ismail Shakil

(Reuters) - Canada announced more sanctions against Russia on Thursday, targeting 62 individuals and entities, including members of the elite and major banks, and cancelled all export permits following Russia's attack on Ukraine.

"Today, in light of Russia's reckless and dangerous military strike, we are imposing further, severe sanctions," Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said at a news conference.

"These sanctions are wide-reaching. They will impose severe costs on complicit Russian elites, and they will limit President (Vladimir) Putin's ability to continue funding this unjustified invasion," Trudeau said.

Putin declared war in a pre-dawn televised address. Ukrainian forces fought Russian invaders on three sides on Thursday.

Sanctions will target the Russian Security Council, including the defence minister, the finance Minister, and the justice minister, Trudeau said.

Canada exported some C$666 million ($518.5 million) in goods to Russia in 2019, according to Statistics Canada. Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland, who is of Ukrainian descent, said the response by Canada and its allies "will bite".

Putin "cements his place in the ranks of the reviled European dictators who caused such carnage in the 20th century," Freeland said. "This barbaric attack cannot and will not be allowed to succeed."

Furthermore, Canadian citizens and permanent residents will have safe passage at the land borders with Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, and Moldova, Trudeau said.

Canada will prioritize immigration applications for Ukrainians who want to come Canada, the prime minister added.

($1 = 1.2844 Canadian dollars)

(Reporting by Steve Scherer in Ottawa and Ismail Shakil in Bengaluru; editing by Grant McCool)