Justin Trudeau meets Zelensky on surprise visit to Ukraine | International

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Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau offers a press conference with Volodymyr Zelensky during his visit to Ukraine.Efrem Lukatsky (AP)

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made a visit to Ukraine this Sunday that has taken Canadians by surprise. The president’s official agenda indicated that he would participate this Sunday from Ottawa in a virtual meeting with G7 leaders to address the situation in Ukraine. However, the Canadian premier has been to Irpin and kyiv, where he held a meeting with President Volodymyr Zelensky and raised the maple leaf flag at the US country’s legation in the Ukrainian capital.

Oleksandr Markushyn, mayor of Irpin, was the first to announce the Canadian leader’s presence in Ukraine. He did it through Telegram, where he shared some photos. “He came to Irpin to see with his own eyes all the horrors that the Russian occupiers have done to our city,” Markushyn wrote. In the images, Trudeau appears surrounded by a security team and appears to be wearing a bulletproof vest under his shirt.

Justin Trudeau’s Office in Ottawa confirmed the prime minister’s presence in Ukraine. A short time later, Trudeau himself posted a message on Twitter stating that he made the trip together with Chrystia Freeland – deputy prime minister and finance minister – and Mélanie Joly – head of the Foreign Ministry. “We are here to show our support for Ukraine and its people,” Trudeau said. “Canada will always be with you,” he added.

Trudeau and Zelenski offered a press conference. The Canadian premier indicated that his country will continue to support it with military equipment and weapons. He also announced the suspension of tariffs on imports from Ukraine. Trudeau said that Russian President Vladimir Putin is clearly responsible for war crimes. For his part, Zelensky called Trudeau a “good friend” of his country and said that Canada and Ukraine are “shoulder to shoulder against the tyranny of Russia.”

As part of this surprise visit, Justin Trudeau announced the reopening of the Canadian embassy in kyiv, where he raised the country’s flag. The return of operations will take place gradually, underlined the diplomatic officials. The legation had closed its doors on February 12, when the staff had moved their activities to the city of Lviv. After Russia, Canada has the largest diaspora of Ukrainians abroad. About 1.4 million people were identified in the last Canadian census as being of Ukrainian origin. The Trudeau government has consistently signaled its support for kyiv throughout the Russian invasion. Ottawa has allocated different amounts, both in humanitarian aid and in weapons, to the forces coordinated by Zelenski. It has also established various economic sanctions against Moscow.

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Justin Trudeau thus joins other political and cultural figures who have visited Ukraine in times of war. António Guterres, Secretary General of the UN, Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, and Boris Johnson, British Prime Minister, have made the trip. This Sunday, Jill Biden, first lady of the United States, was also in the Eastern European country, where she met with Olena Zelenzka, wife of the Ukrainian president, in the city of Uzhhorod (near the border with Slovakia). Bono and The Edge, two of the members of the group by U2 also visited the country this Sunday, where they offered a concert in the metro of the Ukrainian capital.

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