Prime Minister Justin Trudeau paid a surprise visit to Kyiv on Sunday, meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, touring a blackened, bombed-out suburban community and pledging enduring support for the embattled country.
He also reopened the Canadian Embassy and welcomed the ambassador back to the capital, Kyiv. Trudeau was accompanied by Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland, Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly and an armed security detachment.
Trudeau visited the city of Irpin, on the outskirts of Kyiv, which was the scene of some of the heaviest fighting in March as Russian forces attempted to storm the capital.
At a news conference with Zelensky, Trudeau praised Ukraine’s president for his leadership and the courage of Ukrainians in defending their country, including those in Irpin.
“It was a true inspiration to see people step up to defend their lives, defend their community, defend a bright future for themselves and their families in the country they love,” Trudeau said.
The visit came on the same day that Russian missiles pounded the southern port city of Odesa, and there was heavy fighting in the eastern part of the country, including around Kharkiv, the second-largest city in Ukraine.
I’m in Ukraine with <a href=”https://twitter.com/cafreeland?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@cafreeland</a> and <a href=”https://twitter.com/melaniejoly?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@melaniejoly</a> today. We’re here to show our support for Ukraine and its people. Our message to President <a href=”https://twitter.com/ZelenskyyUa?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@ZelenskyyUa</a> and Ukrainians is this: Canada will always stand shoulder to shoulder with Ukraine. More to come on our visit.
Ukrainian troops effectively halted the advance in the area and pushed back the invasion force.
Trudeau said it was clear Russian President Vladimir Putin was responsible for “heinous war crimes” and that Canada would support Ukraine in seeking justice. He also announced military aid in the form of drone cameras, satellites, small arms and ammunition.
The prime minister also announced that all duties on Ukrainian imports to Canada would be removed for the next year and that Canada would place sanctions on Russian individuals and entities.
Asked whether NATO countries were concerned about threats of Russian nuclear warfare, Trudeau said that “no amount of irresponsible sabre-rattling” will deter Ukraine’s supporters.
“Putin and his accomplices will fail. Ukraine will prevail,” Trudeau said at the end of his remarks.
During the news conference, Zelensky said he welcomed Canadian support, referring to Trudeau as the leader of a country from which Ukraine could not ask for more support.
G7 leaders pledge ‘full solidarity’ with Ukraine
Trudeau’s visit was carried out under a news blackout. However, photos of his visit to Irpin were posted on Twitter by the city’s mayor, who met with the prime minister. Trudeau’s visit came on the same day G7 leaders were set to discuss the war in Ukraine, meetings in which Trudeau and Zelensky took part.
In a communiqué issued after the talks, the leaders condemned Russia — which was kicked out of the group in 2014 — and promised “full solidarity and support for Ukraine’s courageous defence of its sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
The G7 leaders began their statement by marking Victory in Europe Day, the anniversary of the Allied victory over Nazi Germany in the Second World War, a day that is celebrated on May 9 in Russia and Ukraine.
Seventy-seven years after the end of the war, the G7 leaders said, “President Putin and his regime now chose to invade Ukraine in an unprovoked war of aggression against a sovereign country. His actions bring shame on Russia and the historic sacrifices of its people.”
There is concern that Russia will use its Victory Day event on Monday to mobilize its population in support of escalating the war in Ukraine.
The G7 leaders also promised on Sunday “further commitments to help Ukraine secure its free and democratic future,” including action on military aid, sanctions, cyber defence, financial support and human rights violation investigations.
“We remain united in our resolve that President Putin must not win his war against Ukraine. We owe it to the memory of all those who fought for freedom in the Second World War, to continue fighting for it today, for the people of Ukraine, Europe and the global community.”
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