KYIV, (Reuters) – Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced $500 million in new military aid for Ukraine during an unannounced trip to war-time Kyiv on Saturday, as Ukraine girds for a counteroffensive against Russian forces and grapples with regular air strikes.
Trudeau paid his respects at a memorial to Ukrainian soldiers killed fighting pro-Russian forces since 2014, met President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and addressed Ukraine’s parliament.
“We will be there with (you) as much as it takes, for as long as it takes,” he said, in footage of the talks released by Kyiv authorities, as he sat across from the Ukrainian leader.
NATO member Canada, which has one of the world’s largest Ukrainian diasporas, has supplied military and financial assistance to Kyiv since Russia invaded in February 2022.
Ukraine wants to join the NATO military alliance as fast as it can, but Zelenskiy has recognised that cannot happen while the war with Russia is raging.
“Canada supports Ukraine to become a NATO member as soon as conditions allow for it. Ukraine and Canada look forward to addressing these issues at the NATO Summit in Vilnius in July 2023,” said a joint declaration adopted after the talks.
Trudeau was applauded at length as he spoke in parliament for 25 minutes, denouncing the Russian invasion and praising Ukraine’s democratic development.
He said Ukraine’s resistance was about “the future of us all. You are the tip of the spear that is determining the future of the 21st century.”
Zelenskiy said Ukraine was grateful to Canadians for their support and extended thanks.
As Trudeau visited Kyiv, Canadian Foreign Minister Melanie Joly announced that a Russian-registered Antonov-124 cargo plane was seized at Toronto’s airport, Ottawa’s first such seizure of an asset aimed at putting pressure on Moscow.
The Canadian prime minister was accompanied by Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland, a Ukrainian speaker.