Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has arrived in Europe to meet with allies about the intensifying situation in Ukraine.
Trudeau has meetings set for Monday in London with the prime ministers of Britain and the Netherlands, and in the days to come, he’s to meet with other leaders in Riga, Latvia, Berlin and Warsaw, Poland.
He’s also due to meet with the secretary-general of NATO and with Canadian Armed Forces members during his trip.
Trudeau left Canada as plans to evacuate civilians from a Ukrainian port city collapsed for the second time.
Residents expected to leave Mariupol during the 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. local ceasefire, Ukrainian military authorities said earlier in the day, but Interior Ministry adviser Anton Gerashchenko later said the planned evacuations were halted because of an ongoing assault by Russian troops.
The Canadian Prime Minister’s Office says he will work with allies in Europe on responding to Russia’s military aggression and the humanitarian challenges stemming from the conflict, which has prompted more than a million people to flee Ukraine since late last month.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has pleaded for a no-fly zone over his country and lashed out at NATO for refusing to impose one.
But NATO has refused, as Russian President Vladimir Putin has made clear he’d consider such a move a hostile act.
Deploying fighter jets over Ukraine could “in current circumstances” be considered as “NATO’s entry into the war and therefore risk World War III,” European Union leader Charles Michel said in an interview.
Instead, the alliance of western nations has opted to send weapons and defensive equipment to Ukraine while attacking Russia’s economy.
Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly has been in Europe over the past few days in meetings with NATO and European Commission officials about ongoing efforts to sanction Russia.
International Development Minister Harjit Sajjan announced plans to travel to Geneva, Switzerland, to meet with the United Nations and other international partners to discuss the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine, as well as the situation in Afghanistan and the global response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
After meetings in Geneva on Monday, Sajjan plans to head to Eastern Europe as well.
Meanwhile in Canada, rallies in support of Ukraine continued for a second consecutive weekend.
A few dozen people met Sunday afternoon in Parc LaFontaine, one of Montreal’s largest parks, and marched down the streets to pressure Canadian politicians to do more.
Raymond Legault, one of Sunday’s rally organizers with Quebec’s association Echec a la Guerre, called for Russia to stop its assault and urged all involved parties to negotiate and compromise.
“This is not something you can just brush off and say it’s insignificant,” Legault said. “It’s not. These are huge military powers and unfortunately for us little people caught in that sort of crossfire between superpowers, there’s nothing much more we can call for than for negotiations.
“We recognize Ukraine’s right to defend their country, but war is not the answer. This has to stop.”