Canada bans imports of Russian oil

Prime Minister Trudeau says the ban sends a ‘powerful message’ despite the fact that Canada doesn’t buy Russian crude

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has announced a ban on imports of Russian oil to punish Moscow for launching a military offensive against Ukraine. However, Canada hasn’t purchased a single barrel of Russian crude since 2019, according to Natural Resources Minister Jonathan Wilkinson.

The ban is part of a new round of penalties that Canada unveiled on Monday to help defend Ukraine and pressure Russian President Vladimir Putin to end the conflict. Ottawa will send anti-tank weapon systems and upgraded ammunition to help Kiev fend off Russian attacks, and Canadian financial institutions are now barred from transacting with Russia’s central bank or buying Russian government bonds.

Trudeau played up the significance of his ban on imports of Russian oil, saying the petroleum industry “has benefited President Putin and his oligarchs greatly,” accounting for more than one-third of the country’s federal government revenue. “While Canada has imported very little amounts in recent years, this measure sends a powerful message,” he added.

In fact, Canada produces more crude than it uses, making it a net exporter of oil. Most of the country’s oil trade, including imports and exports, is with the US. Russia isn’t a significant player among the other nations that sell oil to Canada, as 2022 will likely mark the third straight year of zero crude trade between the countries.

However, Trudeau argued that his import ban will help “ensure that those who are complicit in President Putin’s atrocities cannot escape accountability for their actions.” He added that “this unnecessary war must stop now. The costs will only grow steeper, and those responsible will be held accountable.”

The US currently has no plans to join Canada in banning Russian oil. White House press secretary Jen Psaki said on Monday that although all sanctioning options “remain on the table,” Washington has been reluctant so far to target the energy sector.

Psaki: “We have taken steps, we have not taken some steps on energy sanctions in part because we weigh that … it would also have extreme consequences on the world energy market…”

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“Sanctioning energy would affect Russia’s income stream,” Psaki said. “Certainly that would be a reason to do it. But it would also have extreme consequences on the world energy markets, particularly for our allies in Europe.”

Like Canada, the US is a net oil exporter and buys relatively little of its foreign supplies from Russia.

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