Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also pledged even more military aid to Kiev
The Canadian government has confirmed its plans to seize and transfer to Kiev an Antonov-124 transport aircraft, owned by Russia's Volga-Dnepr air carrier. The announcement comes amid Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's surprise visit to Ukraine.
The seizure of this "important asset" is the "first step of the Government of Canada's action under the asset seizure and forfeiture regime and is designed to put additional pressure on Russia," Ottawa said in a press release on Saturday.
The An-124 Ruslan had been chartered by the Canadian government from a Russian air carrier to deliver a cargo of Covid tests from China back in 2022. It landed in Toronto on February 27, mere hours before Canada closed its airspace to all Russian aircraft, and has been grounded ever since.
"From the beginning we have stood on the side of the Ukrainian people, and implemented a NOTAM against all Russian-owned and operated flights into Canada," transport minister Omar Alghabra said in a statement. "We stand with Ukraine and will take any and all necessary actions, including this seizure, to put pressure on President Putin."
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made a surprise visit to Kiev on Saturday, alongside his Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland, during which he called Ukraine the "tip of the spear that is determining the future of the 21st century."
"We want peace on Ukrainian terms," Trudeau claimed, announcing CA$500 million (US$375 million) more in Canadian military aid, but offering no details on how the new funding would be distributed.
Since February 2022, Canada has already committed some $8 billion to support the Kiev government's battle against Moscow, while imposing multiple rounds of sanctions against Russian individuals and entities.
With the Volga-Dnepr added to the Canadian list of sanctioned entities several months ago, Ottawa will now "seize the asset and manage it in accordance with federal legislation," the statement said. "Should the asset ultimately be forfeited to the Crown, Canada will work with the Government of Ukraine on options to redistribute this asset," it added.