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Canada urges citizens to leave Russia

MONTREAL, Canada: Canada called Saturday on its nationals to avoid all travel to Russia because of its invasion of Ukraine and on Canadians in Russia to leave the country. In an update to its travel advice, the Canadian Ministry of Foreign Affairs recommended that its nationals “avoid all travel to Russia due to the impacts of the armed conflict with Ukraine.”

“If you are in Russia, you should leave while commercial means are still available,” the statement added. Ottawa had previously advised its citizens to avoid nonessential travel to Russia. In the travel advisory, the ministry said that sanctions on Moscow and Russia’s response “may have an important impact on the availability and the provision of essential service. Flight availability is becoming extremely limited.”

The ministry also noted that Russia had passed a law on March 4 that “severely restricts free speech.” The legislation punishes the publication of what it calls “fake news” about its invasion with jail terms of up to 15 years.

Foreign journalists and other media workers in the country “may face considerable risks,” the advisory said. Ottawa urged Canadians in Russia to refrain from discussing the invasion, participating in protests or sharing or publishing information related to current events in Russia and Ukraine.

Canadians who wished to stay in Russia despite the travel advisory were warned they might have to stay “longer than expected” and could be affected by shortages of essential products and services. They also ran the risk of being unable to use their bank cards, and “should not depend on the Government of Canada to help you leave the country.”

Canada, which has already levied many economic sanctions on Russia, “will continue to impose punitive sanctions on Putin and the oligarchs” so that they understand their “monumental error,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Friday, while announcing a European trip. Trudeau is due to leave Ottawa yesterday to travel to London, Riga, Berlin and Warsaw to discuss support for Ukraine. – AFP


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