Canadian Sanctions Related to Russia

Types of sanctions

Asset freeze

Export and import restrictions

Financial Prohibitions

Recent developments

  • 2021-03-29 - Regulations were amended
  • 2021-03-21 - Regulations were amended
  • 2019-03-15 - Regulations were amended
Do you need a permit or certificate?


Sanctions related to Russia were imposed under the Special Economic Measures Act in order to respond to the gravity of Russia’s violation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, and grave human rights violations that have been committed in Russia. On March 17, 2014, the Special Economic Measures (Russia) Regulations (“the Regulations”) came into force.

The Regulations were amended on March 19, March 21, April 28, May 4, May 12, June 21, July 24, August 6, September 16, December 19, 2014, February 17 and June 29, 2015, March 18, 2016, March 4 and 15, 2019 and March 21, 2021.

The Regulations impose an asset freeze and dealings prohibition on designated persons listed in Schedule 1, which include both individuals and entities. It is prohibited for any person in Canada and any Canadian outside Canada to:

  • deal in any property, wherever situated, held by or on behalf of a designated person whose name is listed in Schedule 1
  • enter into or facilitate, directly or indirectly, any transaction related to such a dealing
  • provide any financial or other related services in respect of such a dealing
  • make any goods, wherever situated, available to a designated person listed in Schedule 1
  • provide any financial or related service to, or for the benefit of, a designated person listed in Schedule 1

The individuals listed in Part 1.1 of Schedule 1 to the Regulations are also inadmissible to Canada under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

The Regulations also impose restrictions on certain sectors, such as the financial and energy sectors. With some exceptions, they prohibit any person in Canada and Canadians abroad from dealing in new debt of longer than 30 days maturity in relation to persons listed in Schedule 2, or 90 days maturity in relation to persons listed in Schedule 3. Additionally, the Regulations prohibit any person in Canada or Canadians abroad from dealing in new securities in relation to persons listed in Schedule 2.

The Regulations also prohibit the export, sale, supply or shipping of goods listed in Schedule 4, to Russia or to any person in Russia for their use in offshore oil (depth greater than 500m), shale oil or Arctic oil exploration and production. This includes a ban on the provision of any financial, technical or other services related to the goods subject to this prohibition.

Causing, assisting or promoting prohibited activities is likewise prohibited.

The Regulations provide a review mechanism to remove names from the schedule upon receipt of an application from a designated person.


Exceptions to the asset freeze and dealings prohibition on designated persons listed in Schedule 1 are available for the following:

  • payments made by or on behalf of designated persons pursuant to contracts entered into prior to the coming into force of the Regulations, provided that the payments are not made to or for the benefit of a designated person
  • pension payments to any person in Canada or any Canadian outside Canada
  • transactions in respect of accounts at financial institutions held by diplomatic missions, provided that the transaction is required in order for the mission to fulfill its diplomatic functions under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, or transactions required in order to maintain the mission premises if the diplomatic mission has been temporarily or permanently recalled
  • transactions by international organizations with diplomatic status, agencies of the United Nations, the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, or Canadian non-governmental organizations that have entered into a grant or contribution agreement with Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada
  • transactions necessary for a Canadian to transfer to a non-designated person any accounts, funds or investments of a Canadian held by a designated person on the day on which that person became designated
  • financial services required in order for a designated person to obtain legal services in Canada with respect to the application of any of the prohibitions in the Regulations
  • loan repayments made to any person in Canada or any Canadian abroad in respect of loans entered into before the coming into force of the Regulations, enforcement of security in respect of those loans, or payments by guarantors guaranteeing those loans

Permits and Certificates

The Special Economic Measures (Russia) Permit Authorization Order, made pursuant to subsection 4(4) of the Special Economic Measures Act, authorizes the Minister of Foreign Affairs to issue to any person in Canada or any Canadian outside Canada a permit to carry out a specified activity or transaction, or any class of activity or transaction, that is restricted or prohibited pursuant to the Regulations. Further information is available on the “Permits and Certificates” page.


In November 2013, the refusal of then-Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych to sign a landmark association agreement with the European Union set off major protests in Kyiv, leading to the fall of the Yanukovych government.

In March 2014, Russian forces occupied the Crimean peninsula of Ukraine. Following the unconstitutional “referendum” on March 16, 2014, President Putin signed a treaty purporting to incorporate Crimea into the Russian Federation on March 18, 2014. Canada, along with the international community, continues to condemn Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea.

In the wake of the illegal annexation of Crimea, Russian-backed militants quickly gained control of significant portions of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of eastern Ukraine, declaring the creation of the ‘Donetsk People’s Republic’ and the ‘Luhansk People’s Republic’. Fraudulent so-called “independence referendums”, initiated by pro-Russian separatists, were held on May 11, 2014, but gained no international recognition. In the months following, violence increased as Russian-backed insurgents clashed with Ukrainian government forces. 

Peace agreements were reached at talks held in Minsk, Belarus, in September 2014 and in February 2015. The February ‘Package of Measures’ contains 13 commitments, including: an immediate and complete ceasefire in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions; the full withdrawal of heavy weaponry by both sides; full exchange of prisoners; pullout of all foreign armed formations; and the regaining by Ukraine of control of its border with Russia, amongst other measures.

Despite ongoing diplomatic efforts to seek a resolution to the conflict, Russia continues to sponsor violent pro-Russian separatist groups in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine, including by maintaining troops and providing support to the insurgency in eastern Ukraine. In particular, Russia has failed to make any significant progress on disarming illegal groups, relinquishing control over the Ukrainian side of the border, and withdrawing armed formations, equipment and mercenaries.

Canada has been a consistent supporter of the Minsk peace process and believes that it represents the only feasible path to a durable and peaceful solution to the conflict in Ukraine. Canada continues to call on both parties, in particular Russia, to fully implement their commitments and obligations under the Minsk agreements.

Russia’s direct military involvement in Ukraine and clear violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity continue to be a grave concern for the international community.

Furthermore, events within Russia, including the attack and subsequent imprisonment of Russian opposition figure Alexey Navalny, highlight a trend of deepening authoritarianism in the country. International human rights organizations have noted that Russia’s human rights record has continued to deteriorate in recent years.

Recent Developments

Russia has continued to play a destabilizing role in Ukraine, while denying that it is even a party to the conflict in the east, thus leading to a deadlock in the peace negotiations. This stance has serious consequences for the implementation of a number of the Minsk agreements’ measures aimed at ensuring the security and sovereignty of Ukraine, as does Russia’s continued support to separatists operating in Ukraine’s Donetsk and Luhansk regions and construction of transportation infrastructure linking the Crimean Peninsula and the Russian Federation. Russia also continues to aggressively militarise Crimea, posing a threat to regional security. Since 2014, Russia has forcibly and illegally conscripted over 28,000 residents of Crimea, militarized the education of minors, and disrupted maritime traffic and trade in the Azov Sea through the Kerch Strait. Human rights abuses, particularly against ethnic and sexual minorities, and human rights advocates and journalists, are rampant. For these reasons, on March 29, 2021, the Regulations were amended to add two (2) entities and two (2) individuals to Part 1 of Schedule 1, for their involvement in Russia’s illegal occupation and annexation of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the City of Sevastopol. These actions were taken in coordination with Australia, and aligned with measures previously taken by the European Union and the United Kingdom.

In August 2020, prominent opposition figure Alexey Navalny was poisoned with a Novichok-type chemical nerve agent, which was almost fatal and required months of recovery in a German hospital. This, followed by his disturbing treatment by the Russian authorities and the subsequent violent suppression and mass detention of his supporters, brought to the fore a pattern by the Russian government of increasing internal repression and targeting opposition voices.

Significant open source evidence makes clear that the attack on Mr. Navalny was undertaken with the involvement of the Russian authorities. Russia continues to deny any involvement in the attack, and has actively promulgated false and contradictory narratives as alternatives. The Russian government has also refused all calls for an investigation into the incident.

Following Mr. Navalny’s return to Russia on January 17, 2021 from his treatment and recovery in Berlin, he was detained for violating the terms of a 2014 suspended jail sentence. The Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights noted that the judgement “defie[d] all credibility and contravene[d] Russia’s international human rights obligations, adding that the original criminal conviction had been found to be “arbitrary and manifestly unreasonable” by the European Court of Human Rights. Mr. Navalny was then sentenced to two years and nine months in a penal colony for violating the terms of his parole while seeking treatment in Germany. This verdict prompted thousands of protesters to take to the street to demand his release in January 2021. In response, Russian law enforcement violently suppressed the demonstrations and detained over 10,000 people for participating in the protests.

Mr. Navalny is not the only individual to have been targeted by the regime for opposition activities. Russia has a demonstrated history of human rights violations, targeting political opponents and critics, and repressing internal dissent, sometimes violently. International and local human rights groups cite reports of multiple incidents of mistreatment committed by law enforcement and correctional bodies, including physical abuse of detainees at the hands of the police, torture or severe mistreatment of inmates in prison colonies, and detention of individuals for association with opposition organizations.

Civil society space in Russia has continued to shrink, and legal efforts continue to target human rights defenders. The situation for LGBT individuals and activists in Chechnya is particularly disturbing. As detailed in a 2018 report prepared under the auspices of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), authorities there had carried out torture, enforced disappearances, extrajudicial executions, and other very serious human rights violations and abuses against members of the LGBT community, human rights defenders, lawyers, independent media, and civil society organizations.

The Russian government is also using legislative measures to suppress opposition voices. In late December 2020, President Putin signed a large number of bills into law, including restrictions on protests, online information, and on individuals and organizations receiving funds from foreign sources for their activities. Aggressive state-driven media campaigns discredit the work of civil society, and attacks on civil society actors, as in previous years, remain frequent.

Canada has repeatedly voiced its condemnation over this latest example of Russia’s disregard for human rights and international law. In addition to a statement from the Minister of Foreign Affairs on September 2, 2020, Canada has also joined statements by the G7 and North Atlantic Council condemning the actions.

In light of these events, on March 21, 2021, Canada further amended the Special Economic Measures (Russia) Regulations to list nine (9) senior Russian administration officials in response to these human rights violations that have been committed in that country. These new sanctions are part of a concerted diplomatic effort to communicate a clear message to Russia that Canada will not accept that ongoing gross and systematic human rights violations continue to take place at the hands of the State with impunity and to impose consequences on Russia for its ongoing disregard for human rights and the rule of law.

Selected documents


Regulations and Orders made under the Special Economic Measures Act:


Announcements related to the Regulations made under the Special Economic Measures Act:

Related links

Legal advice

Please be advised that Global Affairs Canada cannot provide legal advice to members of the public. For this reason, we cannot deliver an opinion as to whether or not a specific activity or transaction would contravene sanctions legislation. You should consider seeking legal advice in relation to an activity that may contravene a Canadian sanction law.

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