Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Russian President Vladimir Putin is responsible for “war crimes” and announced that Canada will be removing tariffs on all goods imported from Ukraine over the next year during a surprise visit to the country on Mother’s Day.
Trudeau made the comments Sunday at a joint press conference with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy where he also announced $50 million in Canadian military support for Ukraine, which includes drone cameras, satellite imagery and other equipment as well as funding for demining operations.
“I am here … to reaffirm Canada’s unwavering support for Ukraine, for its people and for democracy,” he said.
Earlier Sunday, Trudeau, who was joined by Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland and Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly, visited Irpin, which was hammered during Russia’s failed effort to capture Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv. The trio also participated in a flag-raising ceremony at the Canadian embassy in Kyiv.
During the press conference, Trudeau said that while in Irpin he saw the brutality of the Russian invasion but also the perseverance of Ukrainians as they rebuild and defend their homes and neighbourhoods.
“It was a true inspiration to see people step up to defend their lives, defend their community, defend a bright future for themselves and the families in the countries they love,” he said.
Canada, Trudeau revealed, will also be sanctioning 40 additional Russian individuals in response to Russia’s “heinous war crimes” in Ukraine.
“It is clear that Vladimir Putin is responsible for heinous war crimes. There must be accountability. Canada will support Ukraine as you seek justice for your people who Russia is killing and brutalizing,” said Trudeau.
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The Prime Minister also praised the efforts of the Ukrainian army and Zelenskyy’s leadership.
“One cannot help but recognize your extraordinary leadership that is [not only] inspiring Ukrainians but inspiring people around the world about how one fights for what is right, fights for one’s country, fights for one’s future,” he said about Zelenskyy.
Sunday’s press conference was the first time Trudeau met Zelenskyy in person for the first time since Russia began its invasion in late February. He said that Canada, with its large Ukraine community, will continue to stand by the country’s side.
“Canada and Canadians continue to stand by your side,” said Trudeau, later adding. “Over the past years our military has trained well over 30 thousand Ukrainian soldiers and we will continue to do the work of being there for you.”
For his part, Zelenskyy, through a translator, praised Canada for its continued help and said the two countries stand “shoulder to shoulder” in the fight against Russia.
With files from The Canadian Press