Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says it is clear now that Russian President Vladimir Putin is responsible for “heinous war crimes” following a surprise visit to the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv.

The brief trip was supposed to be kept under wraps until after Trudeau left Ukraine, but local officials and media broke the embargo Sunday morning.

During the visit, Trudeau met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and held a press conference in the Mariinskyi Palace, where he announced further military assistance and funding supports for Ukraine as it defends its country against the Russian invasion.

Read more: G7 leaders vow to wean off Russian energy as Ukraine enters talks for ‘peace settlement’

During the press conference, Zelenskyy welcomed Trudeau as a “good friend of our country.”

“We are currently facing a full-fledged aggression of Russia and this is a gesture of support we highly appreciate,” Zelenskyy said.

He said Canada and Ukraine “stand shoulder to shoulder against Russia’s tyranny.”

View link »

Zelenskyy said he and Trudeau had also discussed weapons Ukraine was in need of and the economic needs of the country.

“The rebuild of Ukraine requires swift, concise movement … and we’ve agreed on how to turn that into reality,” Zelenskyy said.

Trudeau said Canada will provide more military assistance, including providing more drone cameras, satellite imagery, small arms and ammunition, and announced sanctions against 40 more Russian defence actors and oligarchs.

Trudeau also pledged funding for de-mining operations as well as a $25 million grant to the World Food Programme for food security in Ukraine and a removal of all trade tariffs for Ukrainian imports coming into Canada for the next year. He said Canada will also provide new funding for women’s organizations, human rights defenders and civil society groups.

Read more: Ukraine needs more weapons as war with Russia enters ‘very important’ phase: ambassador-designate

Ukrainian officials have not been shy in emphasizing both their need for more supplies as well as their gratitude for Canadian support in providing weapons, money and diplomatic support.

Now two-and-a-half months into Russia’s invasion of the country, the bulk of Russian forces have retreated into the contested eastern Donbas region, where fighting has intensified.

View link »

Many expect Putin to level a warning to the West to not interfere during a Red Square speech in Moscow on Monday marking the World War Two commemoration known as “Victory Day.”

Read more: Russian official claims U.S. ‘directly participating’ in Ukraine fight as ‘Victory Day’ nears

Trudeau toured the town of Irpin, just outside Kyiv, which was heavily bombarded by Russian shelling during the advance on Kyiv. He also visited Bucha, where retreating Russian forces in March left behind a path of horrific brutality and suffering that quickly spurred accusations of war crimes.

Trudeau said he had “witnessed first-hand the brutality of Russia’s illegal war” and said Russian President Vladimir Putin must face consequences.

“It is clear that Vladimir Putin is responsible for heinous war crimes,” Trudeau said.

At the end of his address, Trudeau said: “Today we send a resounding message to the world that Canada and our allies continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with Ukraine,” before saying “Slava Ukraini.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Canadian ministers raise the Canadian flag at the embassy in Kyiv, Ukraine, during a surprise trip to the country on May 8, 2022.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Canadian ministers raise the Canadian flag at the embassy in Kyiv, Ukraine, during a surprise trip to the country on May 8, 2022. — Ashleigh Stewart/Global News

Hours earlier, Trudeau visited the Canadian embassy in Kyiv, where he was joined by Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland, Minister of Foreign Affairs Melanie Joly and Ambassador of Canada to Ukraine Larisa Galadza to raise the Canadian flag once again.

“This flag came down on February 13 and we’re really glad to be raising it again above the Canadian embassy,” Trudeau said.

“It’s a testament to how the Ukrainian people have been so strong and resilient that they’ve been able to protect their city.”

Trudeau did not say when the embassy would reopen.

Trudeau’s visit came on a historic day for Ukraine.

May 8 is the country’s Day of Remembrance and Reconciliation, which commemorates the victims of the Second World War. It comes on the eve of Russia’s so-called Victory Day.

Read more: Joly mum on Ukraine visit but says Canada’s ambassador will return when it is safe

Ukraine stopped celebrating Victory Day in 2015, after the invasion of the Donbas, when it switched the holiday to a day earlier to coincide with Victory in Europe Day, celebrated by the Allies to mark the end of the war.

Zelenskyy released a powerful black-and-white video on Sunday to mark the occasion, comparing the Russian invasion of his country to the fight against fascism in the Second World War.

In the video, which spans 15 minutes, Zelenskyy stands outside a bombed apartment building in Borodyanka, near Kyiv, and asks: “Never again? Try telling Ukraine that.”

More to come.