Canada Bans All Russian Ships From its Ports and Waterways

File image courtesy Canadian Coast Guard

Published Mar 1, 2022 5:22 PM by The Maritime Executive

The government of Canada has joined the UK in banning Russian shipping from Canadian ports, adding to the growing list of penalties targeted at Russian commerce in response to the invasion of Ukraine. 

In an announcement Tuesday, three Canadian ministers announced that Russian-owned or registered ships and fishing vessels will be prohibited from entering Canada's ports and internal waters. In keeping with UNCLOS' provisions for freedom of navigation and innocent passage, the measure does not cover Canada's territorial seas. The ban will take effect later in the week as part of a broader package of sanctions. 

"President Putin’s war on Ukraine is a war on freedom, on democracy, and on the rights of Ukrainians. These acts, which carry profound human consequences, will not go unpunished. The Canadian Coast Guard and its members will be there to support on-water law enforcement partners. Canada and our allies will continue to stand with Ukraine and its people," said Canada's minister of fisheries and oceans, Joyce Murray.  

Canada has already implemented a ban on Russian-registered aircraft in its sovereign airspace, cutting off many of the typical overflight routes used by Russian airlines. However, according to Transport Canada, Russian airline Aeroflot may have already violated the prohibition. In a social media message Sunday night, the agency said that Aeroflot Flight 111 from Miami had disregarded the ban, and Aeroflot has been placed under investigation. 

Nav Canada, a nonprofit entity that helps manage commercial traffic in Canadian air traffic, has also drawn scrutiny. In a statement Monday, Nav Canada said that Aeroflot Flight 111 had told air traffic controllers that it was on a "humanitarian flight." The pilots asked for an exception to the overflight ban, and Nav Canada's staff took the declaration at face value and granted it permission to proceed. Two other Aeroflot-operated flights presented the same rationale to other regional air traffic control providers, but they were refused and asked to divert, according to Nav Canada. 

The Canadian government has also joined in the sweeping Western sanctions measures targeting Russia's banking sector and governing elite, and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has also promised what may be the first ban on Russian crude oil. However, he acknowledged that this step affects only a "very little amount" of Canada's trade and is largely symbolic. Canada is a leading oil producer and does not rely significantly on Russian energy supplies.