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Ukrainian tanks move on a road before an attack in Luhansk region on Feb. 26.ANATOLII STEPANOV/AFP/Getty Images

Canada is sending anti-tank weapons to Ukraine to help Kyiv fight Russia’s invasion, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Monday.

He saluted Ukraine’s “heroic defence” against Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “brutal assault on Ukraine” that began last week.

“To the people of Ukraine: Your bravery is truly remarkable. The whole world is watching your courage and strength,” Mr. Trudeau told reporters in Ottawa.

Defence Minister Anita Anand said Canada will send 100 Carl Gustav anti-tank weapon systems and 2,000 rockets to Ukraine. The rockets are fired from the Swedish-made systems.

Mr. Trudeau also announced Canada will ban imports of Russian crude oil, “an industry from which President Putin and his oligarchs have greatly benefited.” He acknowledged that Canada has only imported limited quantities in recent years but in 2019, according to the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, this country bought more than $550-million of crude from Russia.

The Prime Minister also said Mr. Putin’s war is creating a refugee crisis and that Canada will be ready to take refugees. “We have said we would be there for the people of Ukraine and that includes making sure they can find safety here in Canada,” the Prime Minister said.

“We have bolstered our presence in the region and are fast-tracking immigration applications for Ukrainians who want to come to Canada.”

Meanwhile, Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly said she’s heading to Poland this week to meet with officials in Warsaw and visit the Poland-Ukraine border.

Canada has already sent nearly $8-milion in weapons to Ukraine – machine guns, pistols, carbines, sniper rifles and 1.5 million rounds of ammunition – as well as non-lethal aid such as helmets and night-vision goggles. On Sunday, Canada announced it would send additional protective gear, valued at $25-million, to Ukraine.

Ms. Anand said the new weapons shipment would be drawn from Canadian Armed Forces inventory.

Retired lieutenant-general Michael Day said the Carl Gustav anti-tank weapon system requires one person to fire the anti-armour weapon and another to carry and load the rocket rounds. The system is easy to learn and deadly.

“You can train someone to use the Carl Gustav in less than an hour. It is point and shoot. ... It is an idiot-proof system,” Mr. Day said.

A Carl Gustav is not going to take out a main battle tank because it is designed for armoured personnel carriers and is effective in urban settings, he said. Depending on where a vehicle is hit, it can penetrate the armour and kill everyone inside or disable it.

“For built-up areas where armoured vehicles get channelled to coming down streets, they are brilliant,” Mr. Day said. “Two thousand Carl Gustav rounds is a significant contribution.”

Canada’s contribution of 100 Carl Gustavs is equivalent to equipping 1,000 soldiers with an anti-armour capability, he added.

Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland was pressed by interim Conservative Leader Candice Bergen to expel Russia’s ambassador to Canada and to recall the Canadian envoy to Moscow.

Ms. Freeland did not rule out the suggestions but said Ottawa wants to give Russian officials the opportunity to distance themselves from Mr. Putin’s war against Ukraine.

“A few brave Russian officials have spoken out against Putin’s barbaric war. We encourage all Russians to oppose this war. Silence is complicity and following orders is not an excuse,” she said. “So when it comes to Canada’s response [expulsion of Russian envoy] everything is on the table.”

Ms. Joly said Canada has already reached out to neighbouring countries, such as Moldova, Romania, Slovakia and Hungary, to offer help with Ukrainian war refugees. She said Canada has assured these allies that it would help with massive refugee flows. Canada will work with these countries and the United Nations “to do our part when it comes to refugees.”

She said she will meet with international counterparts on this issue during her trip to Poland. “We will make sure that Ukrainians seeking refuge will have a place to stay in Canada.”

Immigration Minister Sean Fraser said Ottawa has prioritized existing immigration applications from Ukraine and 4,000 Ukrainians have already been approved since thousands of people began to flee Russian aggression.

Canada has also extended visas and offered work permits to Ukrainians already in Canada, he said.

Ms. Bergen pressed the government to ease visa restrictions for Ukrainians.

“The Ukrainian people do not want to be permanent refugees. They want to be able to live in a free, peaceful and sovereign Ukraine. But Canada can be a safe haven for them in this moment,” Ms. Bergen told the Commons during a Monday evening debate on Ukraine.

Julie Sunday, a senior official at Global Affairs, told the House of Commons foreign affairs committee Monday that Canada and its allies are working to make it easier for people to leave Ukraine.

“There are very long lineups on the Ukrainian side and we have been in discussion with Ukrainian border officials to look at ways that that can be expedited or that we can better support individuals from Ukraine who are wishing to leave.”

Sandra McCardell, assistant deputy minister at Global Affairs, told the same committee that humanitarian aid groups also need unfettered access to Ukraine.

“Unfettered access means exactly as it sounds. We believe humanitarian agencies should be able to get to the people in need,” she said.

Separately, however, the Canadian government is still unwilling to allow visa-free travel to Canada by Ukrainians, a process that would make it far easier for people fleeing the war to reach this country.

“The Ukrainian visa requirement is currently not under review,” Jean-Marc Gionet, a director-general with Canada’s immigration department, told MPs at the House of Commons’ foreign affairs committee Monday.

Canada has granted citizens of more than 60 countries and jurisdictions visa-free access to this country, and while Canadians can visit Ukraine for up to 90 days without a visa, Ukrainians require one to travel to Canada.

The NDP has also urged Ottawa to scrap the visa requirement for Ukrainians.

“The European Union, and most recently Ireland, have already waived the requirements for visas for Ukrainians. If these other nations can do it, the Liberal government has absolutely no excuse for refusing to act. The government has to move quickly to cut the red tape – Ukrainians’ lives depend on it,” NDP immigration critic Jenny Kwan said Monday.

Also, Ms. Bergen urged the government to step up efforts to isolate Russia internationally including seeking its removal from the Group of 20 countries.

Mr. Trudeau said his government has asked the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, Canada’s broadcast regulator, to begin the process of removing Moscow-controlled broadcaster Russia Today from Canadian airwaves. “There is a significant amount of disinformation circulating from Russia, including on social media, and we all need to keep calling it out.”

He also provided an update on Western allies’ effort to prevent the Russian Central Bank from drawing on its international reserve assets to offset the impact of recent sanctions.

“As of this morning, Canadian financial institutions are barred from any transactions with the Russian Central Bank,” he said.

Mr. Trudeau added Mr. Putin should realize he “has made a grave miscalculation,” noting the ruble plunged to record lows Monday and the Russian stock market was forced to close.

The Prime Minister also said Canada will match the donations of individual Canadians to the Canadian Red Cross Ukraine Humanitarian Crisis Appeal up to $10-million.

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