Canada is sanctioning more Russians whom Ottawa accuses of supporting Moscow's invasion of Ukraine and mercenary violence in Africa.

Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly has announced new sanctions against 38 individuals and 25 entities.

The list has a focus on the paramilitary Wagner Group, which has sent combatants to Ukraine and across Africa.

The sanctions also target Russia's nuclear, drone and cultural industries, in response to that country's attacks on Ukraine's nuclear and cultural sites.

The people sanctioned cannot have business dealings with Canadians or travel to Canada. Those added to the list Monday include pop singer Zara and actress Maria Shukshina, as well as the media outlet Readovka, Russia's cultural ministry and mobile-network operators.

French MPs have asked the European Union to add the Wagner Group to its terror listing, after countries such as Lithuania applied their own domestic labels to the group. The Conservatives have called on Ottawa to follow suit.

But bureaucrats told the House of Commons foreign-affairs committee last month that doing so might make it harder to prosecute Russia for war crimes.

The political director for international security at Global Affairs Canada said that's because a terrorist designation would differentiate the activities of the Wagner Group from those of Kremlin, despite the company being deeply tied to Moscow.

"If we have difficulty associating the actions of Wagner with the Russian state, it will be more difficult to hold President (Vladimir) Putin accountable for those atrocities," Heidi Hulan testified.

Ottawa's new round of sanctions on Russians includes celebrities, Wagner Group heads. #CDNPoli #UkraineInvasion #Russia

"I'm in regular contact with the U.K. and the U.S. on a wide variety of issues," she said.

"We have discussed Wagner. I can tell the committee that none of those colleagues have raised with me any intention to list Wagner as a terrorist entity."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 20, 2023.

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