Russia puts Trudeau, foreign affairs and defense ministers on its ‘black list’

The Russian foreign ministry announced Tuesday it has added Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly and Defense Minister Anita Anand to what it calls its “black list,” banning them from entering Russia.

The other federal party leaders — interim Conservative leader Candice Bergen, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet and Green Party parliamentary leader Elizabeth May — have been told they can’t set foot on Russian soil.

Hundreds of MPs from all parties and leaders of various Ukrainian-Canadian groups — including Alexandra Chyczij, the president of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress (UCC) — have also been put on Russia’s black list.

The move is a response to Canada’s aggressive stance toward Russia following that country’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.

Along with other Western powers, Canada has levied sanctions on Russian President Vladimir Putin, his close political allies, senior government leaders and the billionaire oligarchs who control Russian industry and other entities abroad.

Canada and allies like the UK also have led the charge to essentially disconnect Russian financial institutions from the global economy while restricting Russia’s exports and imposing steep tariffs on its imports.

The effects have been devastating for the Russian economy but Putin’s troops have only pushed further into Ukraine since the onset of sanctions and tariffs, shelling major cities and killing thousands.

In an address to Canada’s Parliament Tuesday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky thanked Trudeau and Canada for its contributions to this point — Canada has sent lethal aid, including ammunition. He also urged Canadian leaders to contribute to a no-fly zone to shut down Ukrainian airspace to Russian warplanes.

In a statement, the Russian foreign ministry said it was banning so many Canadians now because “official Ottawa” has “Russophobic rage.”

“This step is forced and taken in response to the outrageous hostility of the current Canadian regime, which has tested our patience for so long. Every Russophobic attack, be it attacks on Russian diplomatic missions, airspace closures, or Ottawa’s actual severing of bilateral economic ties to the detriment of Canadian interests, will inevitably receive a decisive and not necessarily symmetrical rebuff,” the ministry said in a Russian post.

(There have been no reported “attacks” on Russian diplomatic missions but rather peaceful protests in front of the country’s embassy in Ottawa.)

In a statement, a spokesperson for Trudeau said the prime minister was not bothered by the new Canadian additions to the Russian black list.

“The only response from Russia that we’re interested in is an immediate end to the illegal, unnecessary war in Ukraine. Until then, Canada and our allies will continue imposing crippling sanctions on Putin and his enablers in Russia and Belarus,” the spokesperson said.

Asked about being barred by Russia, Joly said she was “not surprised” and she “won’t back down” in the face of Putin’s aggression.

“I think what we need to do is continue — every day, every week — to announce sanctions. We know we have to do more and we know that our sanctions must really target Putin himself, which we have done,” Joly said.

Russia banned Freeland in 2014

This isn’t the first time Russia has banned Canadian officials. Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland, a former financial journalist who lived and worked in Moscow for years, was secretly added to the black list in 2014 after Canada and other Western countries imposed sanctions on some Russian entities following Putin’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine.

A Russian foreign ministry spokesperson confirmed in 2017 that Freeland and a dozen other Canadian officials would be banned from Russia until Canada lifted similar restrictions on Russian officials.

Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland holds the hand of an infant as she speaks with Ukrainian refugees in Warsaw, Poland on March 10, 2022. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

After Moscow imposed sanctions on her, Freeland, a frequent Putin critic, posted on social media that she considered it “an honor to be on Putin’s sanction list.”

Last year, Russia also banned Justice Minister David Lametti, RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki, Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc and a number of government officials — including the then-top bureaucrat at the Department of National Defence, Jody Thomas.

That ban came after Canada imposed sanctions on nine high-ranking Russian officials for “gross and systematic human rights abuses,” including the attempted assassination and subsequent jailing of popular opposition figure Alexey Navalny. Navalny, one of Putin’s main political opponents, was poisoned in 2020 with the nerve agent Novichok.

In addition to banning Trudeau, Joly and Anand Tuesday, Russia also added US President Joe Biden, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Biden’s son Hunter, former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, CIA chief William Burns and White House press secretary Jen Psaki to the black list.

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