Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy gave an impassioned speech to parliamentarians on Friday in which he called on Canada and other Western allies to support his country on the long, bloody road to victory.
He addressed a joint meeting of the Canadian Parliament on Friday after meetings in the United States, where he called for more weapons and rebuked Russia before the United Nations General Assembly and Security Council.
“Life and justice must prevail,” Zelenskyy told the House of Commons in a speech that received at least a dozen standing ovations.
“When we ask the world to support us, it is not just about ordinary conflict. It is about saving the lives of millions of people. Literally, physical salvation, ordinary women and men, children, our families, entire communities, cities entire. … The destruction of Mariupol or Bakhmut or any other city by Russia must not go unpunished.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau took advantage of the visit to announce on Friday another $650 million in military aid for Ukraine, spread over three years, to purchase 50 armored vehicles. The fleet will include medical evacuation vehicles that will be built in London, Ont., he said.
The new aid package comes on top of the $500 million announced by Trudeau in June during a visit to kyiv.
It represents a fundamental change in the way Canada delivers war materiel. Instead of responding to specific, individual requests for equipment from Ukraine, the Canadian government is anticipating its needs and planning to deliver them on a sustained basis.
“History will judge us by how we defend democratic values, and Ukraine is at the tip of the spear in this great challenge of the 21st century,” Trudeau told the House before introducing Zelenskyy.
“[Russian President Vladimir Putin] He rules with deceit, violence and repression… But his imperial delusions in Ukraine have been met with a fierce defense. A defense that is not only strong because of the support of friends around the world, but because those who fight for their freedom will always fight with all their hearts.”
As Ukrainian refugees watched from the gallery, Zelenskyy thanked Canada for its military assistance so far, which has included air defense systems, armored vehicles and artillery shells.
“Canada’s support for Ukraine with weapons and equipment has allowed us to save thousands of lives,” he said.
He said it is a tradition of sustained support that dates back to 1983, when the first monument in the world was built to honor the victims of the Holodomor, the Soviet-induced famine that killed millions of Ukrainians in the 1930s. — was presented in the city of Edmonton.
SEE | Edmonton ‘closely linked’ to Ukraine, Zelenskyy says
“Moscow is now, as always, hell-bent on controlling Ukraine and using all available means to do so, including genocide,” Zelenskyy said.
“Ukraine, not genocide, will be victorious in this war. The people will be the winners, not the Kremlin.”
Zelenskyy met earlier in the day with Governor General Mary Simon. He said she taught him an Inuktitut word: “ajuinnata“
“He said the meaning of this word is: ‘Don’t give up…stay strong against all odds,'” he said, ending his speech to Parliament.
“And so it will be. Ajuinnata Canada. Ajuinnata Ukraine.”
New sanctions announced
After the speeches, the two countries signed a modernized trade agreement aimed at strengthening economic ties.
Trudeau offered more information about that $500 million aid package announced months ago. About $76 million of that package will go toward supplying 35 high-resolution drone cameras, while another $30 million has gone toward a new repair facility in Poland for Ukraine’s Leopard tanks.
Canada will also send trainers for Ukrainian pilots and more small arms ammunition and has set aside more than $4 million to strengthen nuclear safety measures in the Chernobyl exclusion zone.
Friday’s announcement brings Canada’s total committed support to Ukraine to more than $9.5 billion from the beginning of 2022, according to the Prime Minister’s Office.
The government today unveiled new sanctions against 63 Russian individuals and entities who Trudeau says are complicit in the kidnapping of Ukrainian children and the spread of disinformation and propaganda. The sanctions will also apply to entities in the Russian nuclear sector that have already been sanctioned by Canada’s international partners.
The NDP has called Canada’s sanctions regime “political theater.” RCMP data suggests few funds have been frozen or seized.
As part of Friday’s announcement, Canada and Ukraine agreed to work with international partners to establish a working group “to provide advice to decision-makers on the seizure and forfeiture of Russian assets, including assets of the Russian central bank,” according to a statement from the PMO.
A colder reception in the US
Zelenskyy’s visit is part of his campaign to win the long-term support of his allies.
Earlier this week, Poland’s prime minister announced a halt to military donations following a trade dispute between neighboring countries.
And while the Biden administration in the United States remains firmly behind Ukraine, the notion of continued, indefinite support for the embattled Eastern European country is dividing the Republican Party. US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy decided not to greet the Ukrainian leader on camera Thursday.
There has been no sign of such political division in Canada. Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre gave a thumbs up to the Ukrainian delegation as he arrived outside the House of Commons and Zelenskyy was formally greeted by political leaders.
In a statement to the media, the Conservative leader said Canadians will continue to support Ukrainians.
“Canada should continue to help Ukrainians win their freedom, welcome Ukrainian refugees and finally begin approving natural gas exports to break Europe’s dependence on Russia and turn the dollars of dictators like Putin into paychecks for our people,” he said.
“Canada should be an ethical, clean energy superpower that powers the free world with our resources.”
Saskatchewan Senator Denise Batters, of Ukrainian descent, attended the event dressed in a vyshyvanka, a traditional Ukrainian embroidered blouse. She told Zelenskyy that her grandmother sewed the garment more than 100 years ago before coming to Canada.
On the other hand, the new Minister of Defense of Ukraine, Rustem Umerov, met with his Canadian counterpart, Bill Blair, at the National Defense headquarters. Blair said the government has had “outstanding” conversations with Ukraine about how Canada can help in its “brave and courageous fight” against Russia.
“We believe it is our responsibility and we are absolutely determined to provide all the assistance and support we can to Ukraine,” Blair said.
Umerov thanked Biair.
Visit comes as Ukraine reports on progress on the battlefield
The visit came just as reports emerged that Ukrainian forces operating near Orikhiv had penetrated the third line of Russian defenses in the south of the country.
The US-based Institute for the Study of War, which has followed the invasion with daily reports and analysis, hesitated to call it a breakthrough. He noted that geolocated images posted online Thursday “indicate that Ukrainian armored vehicles advanced south of the Russian anti-tank ditches and dragon’s teeth obstacles” that are part of Russia’s three defensive lines.
“The Ukrainian ability to carry armored vehicles into and through the most formidable Russian defenses intended to stop them, and to operate these vehicles near prepared Russian defensive positions, are important signs of progress in the Ukrainian counteroffensive,” the institute said in its analysis. night. .
Paul Grod, president of the World Ukrainian Congress, said that for Ukrainians it is not so much about liberating territory but about liberating people from Russian occupation.
Also on Friday, a Ukrainian missile hit the headquarters of the Russian Black Sea Fleet in Sevastopol, the main city in occupied Crimea. The attack left a soldier missing and the building that controls Russian naval operations in ruins.