Canada is also sending rocket launchers and hand grenades to Ukraine as Russian attacks on major Ukrainian cities escalate.
Canada is stripping Russia and Belarus of their “most favored nation” trading partner status in response to ongoing Russian attacks on Ukraine, which have forced at least one million people to flee the country.
Speaking to reporters on Thursday morning, Canadian Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said the move means all Russian and Belarusian exports to Canada will now be subject to a 35% tariff.
The only other country in the world that does not enjoy “most favored nation” status — a designation that is part of World Trade Organization rules — with Canada is North Korea, Freeland added.
“We are working closely with our partners and allies to encourage them to do the same,” she said. “The economic costs of the Kremlin’s barbaric war are already high and they will continue to rise.”
The announcement comes amid a global campaign to impose economic restrictions on Russia for its February 24 invasion of Ukraine.
Russian troops took control of the southern Ukrainian port city of Kherson on Thursday as the assault entered its second week, while other cities including Mariupol and Kharkiv face increasingly intense attacks.
Canada is among several Western countries, including the United States, that have imposed sanctions on Russian President Vladimir Putin, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and other members of Putin’s inner circle in recent days in response to fights.
The Canadian government also sanctioned Russia’s central bank and on Wednesday imposed restrictions on 10 people at Rosneft and Gazprom, two major Russian energy companies, in what it called an effort to “put pressure on leaders Russians” to end the war.
Statistics Canada data shows that in 2020, Canada had about $948 million (C$1.2 billion) in imports from Russia and about $18 million (C$23 million) from of Belarus – a Russian ally that hosted troops for the country’s attack on Ukraine.
Meanwhile, Canadian Defense Minister Anita Anand said Thursday that Canada also intends to provide more lethal aid to Ukraine, including up to 4,500 M72 rocket launchers and up to 7,500 hand grenades from existing Canadian Armed Forces stocks.
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, a federal department, also announced that it is introducing two new programs through which Ukrainians will be able to come to the country on a temporary or permanent basis.
Canada will waive “many of the normal visa requirements” for an unlimited number of Ukrainians wishing to come to Canada temporarily, the ministry said in a statement.
This accelerated program will open for applications in two weeks and will allow Ukrainians to work and stay in the country for up to two years.
“Canada is ready to welcome Ukrainians fleeing Vladimir Putin’s war, and there is no limit to the number of applications we will be ready to accept,” said Canadian Immigration Minister Sean Fraser.