04/29/2014 06:45 EDT | Updated 06/29/2014 05:59 EDT

Six CF-18 planes depart for Romania against backdrop of crisis in Ukraine

CFB BAGOTVILLE, Que. - Canada sent six CF-18 fighter aircraft to Romania on Tuesday to assist NATO operations in eastern Europe against the backdrop of the crisis in Ukraine.

Defence Minister Rob Nicholson attended the departures at CFB Bagotville, about 250 kilometres north of Quebec City.

More than 225 Canadian military personnel, mostly from Quebec, will support the planes.

"The actions so far have been unacceptable by Russia and we are sending out a very clear message,'' Nicholson said in reference to what Ottawa has described as Russia's continued actions to destabilize the Ukrainian government.

The planes left Canada a day after Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced new sanctions against two Russian companies and nine individuals, including two billionaire friends of President Vladimir Putin.

Harper suggested that more economic sanctions could be on the way unless Putin follows through on an April 17 agreement that was designed to ease tensions in Ukraine.