TORONTO (AP) — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy urged Canada on Friday to stay with his country to victory as he went to the Canadian Parliament seeking to bolster support from Western allies for Ukraine’s war against the Russian invasion.
Zelenskyy flew into Canada’s capital late on Thursday after meetings with President Joe Biden and lawmakers in Washington. He spoke at the United Nations’ annual meeting on Wednesday.
“Moscow must lose once and for all. And it will lose,” Zelenskyy said during his address in Parliament.
Zelenskyy said Canada has always been on the “bright side of history” in fighting previous wars and said it has helped saved thousands of lives in this war with aid. He also thanked Canadians for financial support and for making Ukrainians fleeing war feel at home in Canada.
Zelenskyy repeatedly thanked Canada and received a number of standing ovations from dignitaries and parliamentarians.
Zelenskyy linked the suffering of Ukrainians now to the 1930s genocide caused by Stalin, when the Soviet leader was blamed for creating a man-made famine in Ukraine believed to have killed more than 3 million people. He noted that it was in Edmonton, Canada, where the world’s first monument was erected in 1993 to commemorate the Ukrainian Famine-Genocide.
He expressed hope that a monument would one day be raised in Canada to Ukraine’s victory over Russia’s invasion, “maybe in Edmonton.”
“I have a lot of warm words and thanks from Ukraine to you,” Zelenskyy said in Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s office before his speech. “You have helped us on the battlefield, financially and with humanitarian aid. … Stay with us to our victory.”
It is Zelenskyy’s first visit to Canada since Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022. He previously addressed the Canadian Parliament virtually after the war started.
Trudeau called the visit an opportunity to show Zelenskyy “how strongly and unequivocally we stand with Ukraine” and announced an additional $650 million Canadian ($482 million) over three years for 50 armored vehicles that will be built in Canada.
“We are shifting our approach to provide multiyear assistance to ensure Ukraine has the predictable support it needs for long term support,” Trudeau said at a news conference.
Trudeau said Canada has provided nearly $9 billion Canadian (US$6.7 billion) in military, financial and humanitarian support to Ukraine since the war began.
Zelenskyy and Trudeau also attended a rally in Toronto with the local Ukrainian community late Friday.
“I’m happy to be here with my wife, the first lady. Three days together, the first time from the beginning of full-scale war,” Zelenskyy said.
Canada is home to about 1.4 million people of Ukrainian descent, close to 4% of the population.
More than 175,000 Ukrainians have come to Canada since the war started and an additional 700,000 have received approval to come as part of an initiative that supports temporary relocation of those fleeing the war. The initiative allows for an open work permit for three years with pathways to permanent residency and citizenship.
Zelenskyy is facing questions in Washington about the flow of American dollars that for 19 months has helped keep his troops in the fight against Russian forces. A hard-right flank of Republicans, led by Donald Trump, Biden’s chief rival in the 2024 race for the White House, is increasingly opposed to sending more money overseas.
“We are grateful to the United States and, with all due respect to our allies, the United States provides the largest share of assistance. And the assistance our soldiers on the battlefield really need, ” Zelenskyy said at an earlier news conference.
He also faces challenges in Europe as well as cracks in what had been a largely united Western alliance behind Ukraine. Late Wednesday, Poland’s prime minister said his country is no longer sending arms to Ukraine, a comment that appeared aimed at pressuring Kyiv and put Poland’s status as a major source of military equipment in doubt as a trade dispute between the neighboring states escalates.
Ukrainian troops are struggling to take back territory that Russia gained over the past year. Their progress in the next month or so before the rains come and the ground turns to mud could be critical in rousing additional global support over the winter.
The Group of 7 industrial nations in July promised to reach individual agreements with Ukraine to provide long-term military help.
“Considering the reluctance of many Republicans in U.S. Congress to further support Ukraine and the tensions between Ukraine and some of its key allies like Poland, Canada is seen as a reliable supporter of Ukraine so Zelenskyy will be in friendly territory during his visit to Canada,” said Daniel Béland, a political science professor at McGill University in Montreal.
“A key fact to keep in mind here is that 4% of Canadians are of Ukrainian descent, including Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland.”