Trudeau makes surprise visit to Ukraine, meets with Zelensky

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau paid a surprise visit to Kyiv on Sunday, where he met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and briefly toured a blackened, bombed-out suburban community.

He also reopened the Canadian Embassy and welcomed the ambassador back to the embattled capital. Trudeau was accompanied by Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland, Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly and an armed security detachment.

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.

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.

Ukrainian troops effectively halted the advance in the area and pushed back the invasion force.

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.

Trudeau, centre, walks with Oleksandr Markushyn, right, the mayor of Irpin, Ukraine, on Sunday. Irpin, on the outskirts of Kyiv, was the scene of some of the heaviest fighting in March as Russian forces attempted to storm the capital. (Irpin Mayor’s Office/The Associated Press)

Seventy-seven years after the end of the war, the G7 leaders said, “President [Vladimir] 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.”

Trudeau raises the flag at the reopening of the Canadian Embassy in Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital, on Sunday. The Canadian officials had to raise the flag on a pole at the side of the building, as the first flag pole selected was broken. (CBC)

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