Canada seizes Russian cargo jet at Pearson airport and plans to surrender it to Ukraine

Canada seizes Russian cargo jet at Pearson airport and plans to surrender it to Ukraine

The Russian jet grounded at Pearson airport, Volga Dnepr Airlines’ Antonov An-124, is one of the largest production cargo planes in the world.

The Russian jet grounded at Pearson airport, Volga Dnepr Airlines’ Antonov An-124, is one of the largest production cargo planes in the world.

‘There will be nowhere left to hide for those who support and profit from the Kremlin’s war of aggression,’ said Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly.

By Joanna ChiuStaff Reporter

Sat., June 10, 20232 min. read

Canada has ordered the seizure of a giant Russian cargo jet that’s been grounded on the tarmac at Toronto Pearson Airport since the 2022 start of the war in Ukraine.

“Today, Canada is sending a clear message to the Russian regime that there will be nowhere left to hide for those who support and profit from the Kremlin’s war of aggression,” Mélanie Joly, Minister of Foreign Affairs, said in a statement.

Joly made the announcement as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made a surprise visit to Kyiv to meet with Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

Trudeau said in Kyiv that the federal government would try to forfeit the plane to Ukraine, so that it cannot be used to support Russia’s war effort.

It is Canada’s first physical seizure after making amendments in 2022 to the Special Economic Measures Act and the Justice for Victims of Corrupt Foreign Officials Act to allow the government to seize, forfeit, dispose or redistribute assets belonging to sanctioned individuals and entities.

The Russian aircraft, an Antonov 124, is believed to be owned by a subsidiary of Volga-Dnepr Airlines LLC and Volga-Dnepr Group, two entities against which Canada has imposed sanctions.

The large white and blue cargo jet, which can carry the weight of about 83 cars, had arrived in Canada on the same day sanctions were announced last February. Neither the Greater Toronto Airport Authority nor Transport Canada have said what happened to the pilot or the passengers.

Trudeau’s visit to Kyiv at the invitation of Zelenskyy comes amid signs that a long-awaited spring counteroffensive against Russia could already be underway.

“Canada will be part of the multinational efforts to train fighter pilots and to help maintain and support Ukraine’s fighter-jet program, leveraging Canadian expertise in these areas,” Trudeau said during a news conference. He added that Canada will join a team of countries helping to maintain tanks, while providing additional missiles and rounds of ammunition.

The two leaders also issued a joint declaration with a dozen points that largely reiterated Canada’s actions in support of Ukraine. It mentioned “the need to strengthen efforts to ensure the effective implementation of sanctions and to prevent and counter circumvention in and by third countries.”

Joly also announced today that Canada is imposing additional sanctions against 24 individuals and 17 entities in Ukraine as part of the Special Economic Measures (Ukraine) Regulations.

Since Russia’s invasion of Crimea in 2014, Canada has imposed sanctions on more than 2,500 individuals and entities in Russia, Belarus, Ukraine and Moldova, involving coordination with allies and partners.

With files from The Canadian Press and Michele Henry

Joanna Chiu is a B.C.-based staff reporter for the Star. She covers global and national affairs. Follow her on Twitter: @joannachiu

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