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 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 in 1993 it in was Edmonton, Canada, where the first monument in the world was erected to commemorate that 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.”
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.
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.
“I have made it clear that our government will stand with you for as long as it takes,” Trudeau said in his speech.
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 are also scheduled to go to Toronto to meet with the local Ukrainian community. 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.
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.
Zelenskyy made his first official visit to Canada in 2019.
“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 Zelensky 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.”