Russian sanctions: what more can be done in Ukraine?

As Ukrainians continue to defend their country against Russian attacks, some say Western sanctions may help in the long run, but more can be done now.

“I would say that if diplomats want to do something, especially those from countries that were previously friendly with Russia, they should reach out to their Russian elite contacts, officials, oligarchs and ask them, persuade them, to withdraw Mr. Putin’s finger of that nuclear button,” former Canadian Ambassador to Ukraine Roman Waschuk told CTV News Channel on Saturday.

The war between Ukraine and Russia entered its third day on Saturday, as Russian forces continued to shell Ukrainian cities and hundreds of thousands of people fled to the European Union.

But despite being understaffed and underarmed, Ukrainian forces managed to repel many attacks and maintain control of their capital Kiev.

The West has provided arms and humanitarian aid to Ukraine, and NATO plans to send thousands more troops from its Response Force, the first time it has been used as collective defence, to protect its allies near Ukraine and Russia.

Reuters reports that some of NATO’s 30 allies have announced they will supply Ukraine with more weapons, including air defences.

Waschuk says Putin did not seem to anticipate the level of defense and response he is encountering from Ukraine.

“I think he had his own idea of ​​Ukraine, a Ukraine where people would greet Russian soldiers with flowers and feel great relief at being freed from drug addicts who he says are running the country,” he said. Waschuk.

“But it’s a bizarre, delusional belief on her part and she was, I think, completely shattered by what happened.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has called for a no-fly zone over Ukraine, which Waschuk said the West might be reluctant to do because shooting down a Russian plane would be an act of war.

He suggested that if a no-fly zone is used, it should be implemented gradually, applying only to missiles at first.

“We’ve had no-fly zones before. We had them over Syria, we had them over Libya, but never of course with nuclear power under a delusional and very threatening leader,” Waschuk said.

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Retired Major General and CTV News military analyst David Fraser told the News Channel on Saturday that anyone who supports Russia must be held accountable.

Besides Russia, countries have also imposed sanctions on Belarus, which has served as a staging base for Russian forces.

“Anyone who supports this illegal invasion should be held accountable, and by extension politically China should be encouraged not to engage,” he said.

Jeremy Kinsman, Canada’s former ambassador to Russia, says that while sanctions are generally not very effective, the latest ones announced by Canada and its allies go much further.

Speaking to CTV News Channel on Saturday, Kinsman pointed to the growing consensus to kick Russia out of SWIFT, or the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications, a messaging platform used to settle financial transactions around the world.

Banning Russia from SWIFT would make it harder for financial institutions to send money to or from the country.

“Whether it’s with our Visa card or whether we buy an Airbus, these things have to be processed through the international banking system,” Kinsman said.

In a recent round of sanctions, Canada joined its allies in targeting Russian President Vladimir Putin himself, as well as his Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

This, Kinsman says, is among the most significant sanctions imposed on Russia, along with those that will hit the average Russian citizen.

The European Broadcasting Union has said that Russia will not be allowed to participate in this year’s Eurovision Song Contest and that Poland and Sweden are refusing to play against the country’s football team in their Eurovision Song Contest qualifier. World Cup next month.

Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin, a native of Russia, also called for “more war” when speaking with reporters on Friday.

“Things like that make Russians realize that Russians here have to accept that their leader has committed a terrible crime on their behalf, and that’s what I think is going to be more of a change than anything,” said Kinsman.

Russia has cracked down on anti-war protesters in its own country in recent days, though Kinsman says he thinks those protests will make a difference to Putin’s thinking.

And while further devastation in Kiev is possible, he says the alternative is for Russia to try to occupy a country of 44 million people that is increasingly hostile, resistant and bitter.

“They can try it, they can’t digest it, so something is going to have to happen.”

CALLS TO HELP BRING UKRAINIANS TO CANADA

Ihor Michalchyshyn, CEO and Executive Director of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress, called the conflict a “nightmare scenario” that Canadians and the world have been warned about, but which is “supported” by the work of Ukraine’s armed forces.

He told CTV News Channel on Saturday he was scared of war crimes, reports of Russian missiles hitting apartment buildings and schools. The Ukrainian government has also armed its citizens with weapons.

“It’s very scary. Civilians shouldn’t have to do this. Canada must send more defensive weapons, more weapons, like Poland did yesterday with a huge convoy of ammunition and weapons,” Michalchyshyn said.

“Literally, it will be a hand-to-hand fight in the next few hours.”

He also called on Canada to “immediately” open its refugee program to help reunite families, given long lines at Ukraine’s borders with neighboring countries.

The United Nations estimates that up to five million people could be displaced by the conflict.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Thursday that Canada has arranged for the safe passage of Canadian citizens, permanent residents and their families still in Ukraine through its land borders with Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania and Moldova.

Canada will also prioritize immigration applications from Ukrainians, he said.

While the sanctions are important to help cripple the Russian economy in the short to medium term, Michalchyshyn said they will not stop the battles taking place on the streets of Ukraine.

“We’re asking Canadians to do everything they can, and Russian disinformation is Russian disinformation,” he said. “I think it’s very clear to see that these are all lies.”

With files from CTV News, Reuters and Associated Press

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