OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada will impose sanctions on a broad range of entities related to various Russian industries in response to action in Ukraine and to the shooting down of a Malaysian airliner over eastern Ukraine, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said on Monday.
“The outrageous and criminal act of shooting down a civilian airliner last week is a direct product of Russia’s military aggression and illegal occupation of Ukraine, and demonstrates the need for the international community to continue applying pressure on the Putin regime,” Harper said in a statement.
The decision to go after entire sectors was taken in tandem with international partners for rapid implementation and maximum effect, he said.
“We call on (Russian) President (Vladimir) Putin to immediately order a withdrawal of his troops from the Ukrainian border, to stop the flow of weapons and militants into Ukraine, and to use Russia’s influence to persuade insurgents to lay down their weapons,” he said.
“It is also imperative that investigators be given full, unimpeded access to the crash site of the downed Malaysian airliner.”
Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird told reporters by phone from London that drawing up the sanctions was under way before the Malaysian air crash in Ukraine, but that the disaster expedited consideration of wider sanctions.
“I don’t know whether there’s direct command and control from the Kremlin on everything that’s going on in eastern Ukraine,” he said.
“The Russian Federation has to take some responsibility for the events that led up to this unspeakable crime. The Kremlin may not have pulled the trigger, but it certainly loaded the gun and put it in the murderous hands.”
Russia’s Defense Ministry on Monday challenged Western and Ukrainian accusations that pro-Russian separatists were responsible for shooting down a Malaysian airliner and said Ukrainian warplanes had flown close to the aircraft.
The ministry also rejected accusations that Russia had supplied the separatist rebels in east Ukraine with SA-11 Buk anti-aircraft missile systems, known as “Gadfly” in NATO, “or any other weapons.”
Reporting by Randall Palmer; Editing by Amran Abocar, Jeffrey Hodgson, Chizu Nomiyama and Dan Grebler