Regulations Amending the Special Economic Measures (Moldova) Regulations: SOR/2023-218

Canada Gazette, Part II, Volume 157, Number 22

SOR/2023-218 October 16, 2023


P.C. 2023-1027 October 16, 2023

Whereas the Governor in Council is of the opinion that the situation in the Republic of Moldova constitutes a grave breach of international peace and security that has resulted or is likely to result in a serious international crisis;

Therefore, Her Excellency the Governor General in Council, on the recommendation of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, makes the annexed Regulations Amending the Special Economic Measures (Moldova) Regulations under subsections 4(1)footnote a, (1.1)footnote b, (2)footnote c and (3) of the Special Economic Measures Act footnote d.

Regulations Amending the Special Economic Measures (Moldova) Regulations


1 Part 1 of the schedule to the Special Economic Measures (Moldova) Regulations footnote 1 is amended by adding the following in numerical order:

2 Part 2 of the schedule to the Regulations is amended by adding the following in numerical order:

Application Before Publication

3 For the purpose of paragraph 11(2)(a) of the Statutory Instruments Act, these Regulations apply according to their terms before they are published in the Canada Gazette.

Coming into Force

4 These Regulations come into force on the day on which they are registered.


(This statement is not part of the Regulations.)


Russia hinders Moldova’s democratic reform agenda through malign actors and destabilization campaigns. Russia violates Moldovan sovereignty and territorial integrity and threatens to bring Moldova into the war in Ukraine.


Following Russia’s illegal occupation and attempted annexation of Crimea in March 2014, the Government of Canada, in tandem with partners and allies, enacted sanctions through the Special Economic Measures (Russia) Regulations (the Regulations) under the Special Economic Measures Act (SEMA). These sanctions impose dealings prohibitions (an effective asset freeze) on designated individuals and entities in Russia and Ukraine supporting or enabling Russia’s violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty. Any person in Canada and Canadians outside Canada are thereby prohibited from dealing in the property of, entering into transactions with, providing services to, or otherwise making goods available to listed persons.

On February 24, 2022, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced “a special military operation” as Russian forces launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine from Russian and Belarusian territory. The war has become a grinding war of attrition which sees little prospect of a quick victory for either side, and both continue to incur heavy losses. The Russian military has committed horrific atrocities against civilians, including in Izium, Bucha, Kharkiv and Mariupol. Experts, including the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Moscow Mechanism fact-finding missions, the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine and United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), have concluded that Russia is committing serious human rights violations, war crimes, possible crimes against humanity, and conflict-related sexual violence. These studies have linked Russian external aggression with systematic repression and human rights abuses domestically. According to Ukraine’s State Emergency Department, 30% of Ukrainian territory (approximately the size of Austria) is mined. President Putin’s military invasion has been paired with significant malicious cyber operations and disinformation campaigns that falsely portray the West as the aggressor; and claim Ukraine is developing chemical, biological, radiological and/or nuclear weapons with North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s (NATO) support. The deterioration of Russia’s relations with Ukraine has paralleled the worsening of its relations with NATO, which has led to heightened tensions.

Russia continues to threaten to draw Moldova further into the conflict in Ukraine. Pro-Russian officials in Transnistria have long-sought separation from Moldova. Russia has stationed so-called “peacekeepers” as part of a trilateral peacekeeping force there since 1992, as well as occupation troops guarding Russian ammunition depots in Transnistria. Russia has used its presence in Moldova to restrain the national government from exercising full sovereignty over Moldovan territory in Transnistria and has threatened military confrontation should Moldova seek to remove them.

Following the annexation of Crimea in 2014, pro-Russian officials in Transnistria openly applauded the Russian action and expressed their wish that Russia annex Transnistria. At the time, Ukraine built defences on its border with Transnistria, fearing that Russia would use Moldovan territory to invade mainland Ukraine. Since February 2022, Moldovan authorities have reported several instances in which Russian missiles have crossed Moldovan airspace to attack Ukraine. On at least two occasions, missile debris has landed in Moldovan territory. Senior Russian officials have suggested Russia’s war aims to include taking a contiguous strip of land from Donetsk in eastern Ukraine, running along the Azov and Black Sea coast through Ukrainian Kherson and Odesa, and from there to Transnistria. In February 2023, Moldova’s democratically elected President warned that Russia was planning a coup amid various protests and provocations that Moldovan and Ukrainian intelligence said were backed by the Kremlin.

These destabilization activities continued throughout the first half of 2023 and are made possible by the corrupting activities of Moldovan oligarchs. This has impacted several of Moldova’s political and economic institutions, which have then been used as instruments of Russia’s malign influence campaign in Moldova and beyond. Russia is hindering the democratic reforms that the current government of Moldova is pursuing as it seeks European Union (EU) membership. This includes ongoing violations of human rights.

International response

The coalition of countries supporting Ukraine includes, but is not limited to, G7 and European countries and some of Ukraine’s neighbours. This group is working to support Ukraine across a number of areas, including energy security, nuclear safety, food security, humanitarian assistance, combating Russian disinformation, sanctions and economic measures, asset seizure and forfeiture, military assistance, accountability, recovery and reconstruction. Canada and other G7 countries are engaged in intense diplomacy with the broader international community to encourage support for Ukraine and counter false Russian narratives. Key votes in multilateral forums have effectively isolated Russia, including resolutions in the United Nations (UN) General Assembly condemning Russian aggression against Ukraine (March 2022), deploring the humanitarian consequences of Russian aggression against Ukraine (March 2022), suspending Russian membership in the UN Human Rights Council (April 2022) and condemning Russia’s illegal annexation of Ukrainian territories (October 2022). Many developing countries have refrained from openly criticizing Russia or imposing penalties due to geopolitical considerations, commercial incentives, or simply fear of retaliation, with some also arguing the conflict is less of a priority for their regions. Russia continues to use its position as a permanent member of the UN Security Council (UNSC) to block UNSC action on its war on Ukraine and its corrosive disinformation policies.

The coalition of countries supporting Ukraine has also been vocal in their support for Moldova in the face of Russian attempts to destabilize and threaten Moldova’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, including through corruption, disinformation, hybrid tactics, interference, and backing of the breakaway region of Transnistria. The EU has granted Moldova candidate status, as Moldova pursues a substantial domestic reform agenda as part of its path to EU integration. International support for Moldova has included the establishment of a Moldova Support Platform, where Canada has contributed $8.2 million via the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and co-chairs the Platform’s Humanitarian Working Group with Germany. The Government of Moldova and its partners have established a number of thematic pillars guiding the Platform’s work to address Moldova’s current challenges, including humanitarian support, energy, combating corruption, border management and public administration and socio-economic support. Political support has included a June 2018 UN General Assembly Resolution for the complete and unconditional withdrawal of foreign military from the territory of the Republic of Moldova, which Canada co-sponsored. On October 8, 2020, Canada aligned with the EU at the OSCE reaffirming support for a peaceful and comprehensive settlement of the Transnistrian conflict on the basis of respect for the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the Republic of Moldova, and by highlighting the deterioration of the human rights situation in Transnistria.

Canada’s response

Since February 2022, Canada has committed or delivered over Can$9.5 billion in assistance to Ukraine. This includes military aid, cyber defence and training to Ukrainian troops in the United Kingdom and Poland under the aegis of Operation UNIFIER. Economic resilience support includes new loan resources, a loan guarantee, and Ukraine Sovereignty Bonds. Canada is helping Ukraine repair its energy infrastructure and has temporarily removed trade tariffs on Ukrainian imports. Canada has also committed development and humanitarian assistance, and is countering disinformation through the G7 Rapid Response Mechanism. Canada is also providing security and stabilization programming, including support for civil rights organizations and human rights defenders. Canada announced two new immigration streams for Ukrainians coming to Canada: the temporary Canada Ukraine Authorization for Emergency Travel and a special permanent residence stream for family reunification. In June 2023, Canada established the Special Economic Measures (Moldova) Regulations.

Since 2014, in coordination with its allies and partners, Canada has imposed sanctions on more than 2 700 individuals and entities in Russia, Belarus, Ukraine and Moldova who are complicit in the violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. In addition, Canada implemented targeted restrictions against Russia and Belarus in financial, trade (goods and services), energy and transport sectors. Canada is part of the Oil Price Cap Coalition, which limits the provision of maritime services to Russian crude oil and petroleum products above a price set by the coalition. These amendments to the Regulations build upon Canada’s existing sanctions. They impede dealings with Canada by Moldovans who have been involved in undermining the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Moldova and Ukraine. Canada seeks to align its measures with its partners, including the United States, the United Kingdom, the European Union, Australia, New Zealand, Japan and Ukraine.

Canada continues to condemn in the strongest possible terms Russia’s actions against Ukraine. Canada has announced several contributions to support Ukraine, including humanitarian, development, resilience, security, human rights and stabilization programming. To support Ukraine’s economic resilience, Canada also offered up to $1.45 billion in additional loan resources to the Ukrainian government through a new Administered Account for Ukraine at the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which have been fully disbursed.

Conditions for imposing and lifting sanctions

Pursuant to SEMA, the Governor in Council may impose economic and other sanctions against foreign states, entities and individuals when a person has participated in gross and systematic human rights violations in Moldova; the situation in Moldova constitutes a grave breach of international peace and security that has resulted or is likely to result in a serious international crisis; or a national of the Republic of Moldova who is a foreign public official, or an associate of such an official, is responsible for or complicit in ordering, controlling or otherwise directing acts of significant corruption.

The duration of sanctions by Canada and like-minded partners has been explicitly linked to the peaceful resolution of the conflict, and the respect for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, within its internationally recognized borders, including Crimea, as well as Ukraine’s territorial sea. The United States, the United Kingdom, the EU and Australia have continued to update their sanction regimes against individuals and entities in Ukraine, Russia, Belarus and Moldova.


  1. Support the democratically elected Government of Moldova in its efforts to implement democratic reforms, counter Russian malign activity and destabilization efforts and regain full sovereignty within its internationally recognized borders.
  2. Impose further macroeconomic costs on Russia-aligned actors in Moldova.
  3. Undermine Russia’s ability to conduct its military aggression against Ukraine through Moldova.
  4. Align Canada’s measures with those taken by international partners.


The Regulations will include nine individuals and six entities to the Schedule of the Regulations, who are subject to a broad dealings ban. They are Moldovans associated with corrupt oligarchs Vladimir Plahotniuc and Ilan Shor and the latter’s political party, who have worked to corrupt and destabilize Moldova in coordination with Russia. The entities are television stations that spread Russian disinformation about the illegal invasion of Ukraine. Any individual or entity in Canada, and Canadians and Canadian entities outside Canada, are thereby prohibited from dealing in the property of, entering into transactions with, providing services to, or otherwise making goods available to listed persons.

Regulatory development


Global Affairs Canada regularly engages with relevant stakeholders, including civil society organizations, cultural communities and other like-minded governments, regarding Canada’s approach to sanctions implementation. Global Affairs Canada research also draws from analysis of pro-democracy movements inside and outside Russia as well as the democratically elected Government of Moldova.

With respect to the amendments targeting individuals and entities, a public consultation would not be appropriate, given the risk of asset flight and the urgency to impose these measures in response to the ongoing breach of international peace and security in Ukraine.

Modern treaty obligations and Indigenous engagement and consultation

An initial assessment of the geographical scope of the Regulations was conducted and did not identify any modern treaty obligations, as the amendments do not take effect in a modern treaty area.

Instrument choice

Regulations are the sole method to enact sanctions in Canada. No other instrument could be considered.

Regulatory analysis

Benefits and costs

Sanctions targeting specific individuals and entities have less impact on Canadian businesses than traditional broad-based economic sanctions and have limited impact on the citizens of the country of the listed individuals and entities. It is unlikely that the newly listed individuals and entities have linkages with Canada and, therefore, do not have business dealings that are significant to the Canadian economy.

Canadian banks and financial institutions are required to comply with sanctions. They will do so by adding the newly listed individuals and entities to their existing monitoring systems, which may result in a minor compliance cost.

Small business lens

Likewise, the amendments could create additional costs for small businesses seeking permits that would authorize them to carry out specified activities or transactions that are otherwise prohibited. However, costs will likely be low, as it is unlikely that Canadian small businesses have or will have dealings with the newly listed individuals and entities. No significant loss of opportunities for small businesses is expected as a result of the amendments.

One-for-one rule

The permitting process for businesses meets the definition of “administrative burden” in the Red Tape Reduction Act and would need to be calculated and offset within 24 months. However, the amendments address an emergency circumstance and are therefore exempt from the requirement to offset administrative burden and regulatory titles under the one-for-one rule.

Regulatory cooperation and alignment

While the amendments are not related to a work plan or commitment under a formal regulatory cooperation forum, they align with actions taken by Canada’s allies.

Strategic environmental assessment

The amendments are unlikely to result in important environmental effects. In accordance with the Cabinet Directive on the Environmental Assessment of Policy, Plan and Program Proposals, a preliminary scan concluded that a strategic environmental assessment is not required.

Gender-based analysis plus (GBA+)

The subject of economic sanctions has previously been assessed for effects on gender and diversity. Although intended to facilitate a change in behaviour through economic pressure on individuals and entities in foreign states, sanctions under the LMES can nevertheless have an unintended impact on certain vulnerable groups and individuals. Rather than affecting Moldova as a whole, these targeted sanctions impact individuals believed to be engaged in activities that directly or indirectly support, provide funding for or contribute to a violation of the sovereignty or territorial integrity of Ukraine or Moldova. Therefore, these sanctions are unlikely to have a significant impact on vulnerable groups as compared to traditional broad-based economic sanctions directed toward a state, and limit the collateral effects to those dependent on those targeted individuals and entities.


The Regulations seek to impose a direct economic cost on Russia and Russia-backed actors and signal Canada’s strong condemnation of Russia’s violation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine and Moldova. They target individuals and entities who have engaged in acts that are destabilizing, corrupt and spread Russian disinformation in support of the ongoing breach of international peace and security in Ukraine. These individuals and entities and are closely connected with Russia and Kremlin-aligned individuals and groups. As the conflict in Ukraine continues in its second year, the Regulations seek to further degrade Russia’s capabilities that are being used to invade Ukraine, which could include the use of Moldovan territory and assets to directly invade Ukraine or fund the invasion. The Regulations also align Canada’s efforts with those of its international partners and expose individuals and entities engaged in activities that undermine international peace and security.

Implementation, compliance and enforcement, and service standards

The amendments come into force on the day on which they are registered.

The names of the listed individuals and entities will be available online for financial institutions to review, and will be added to the Consolidated Canadian Autonomous Sanctions List. This will help to facilitate compliance with the Regulations.

Under the SEMA, both Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) officers have the power to enforce sanctions violations through their authorities, as defined under the Customs Act, the Excise Act or the Excise Act, 2001, and sections 487 to 490, 491.1 and 491.2 of the Criminal Code.

In accordance with section 8 of the SEMA, every person who knowingly contravenes or fails to comply with the Regulations is liable, upon summary conviction, to a fine of not more than $25,000 or to imprisonment for a term of not more than one year, or to both; or, upon conviction on indictment, to imprisonment for a term of not more than five years.


Andreas Weichert
Eastern Europe and Eurasia Relations Division
Global Affairs Canada
125 Sussex Drive
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0G2
Telephone: 613‑203‑3603