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Trudeau in Kyiv to sign $3 billion security deal on second anniversary of Russian invasion

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is in Kyiv today, where he signed a deal committing Canada to a $3.02-billion security assistance package for Ukraine, a milestone event to mark the second anniversary of Russia’s full-scale invasion.

He was joined by Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, European Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen and Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo, all of whom were also in the war-torn country to show solidarity.

Trudeau’s visit — his third to the country since the eruption of major hostilities — comes as Western support for the government of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy wavers and billions of dollars in military and economic aid is being held up in the U.S. Congress.

The security assistance deal, first promised by allies  last summer as a bridge toward Ukraine’s membership in NATO, is a mixture of economic and military aid. It s meant to be stable predictable support that Ukrainian government and Armed Forces can count on as they continue to resist Moscow’s drive to absorb the country. Other allies, led by G7 nations, have signed similar agreements.

Trudeau said when President Vladimir Putin ordered his tanks across the Ukrainian border two years ago, the Russian leader thought Kyiv would fall within days and that Zelenskyy would cave while the free world stood by.

“Two years on, Ukrainians are resolute as they defend democracy, freedom, and their identity — and Canada’s support is unwavering,” Trudeau said. 

“Today, standing shoulder to shoulder with our allies and partners, Canada committed to further assistance, including military and humanitarian support, for Ukraine.”

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pauses while speakinig at a podium during a ceremony in Ukraine.
Trudeau pauses during a ceremony at Hostomel Airport in Kyiv on Saturday. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press)

On X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter, von der Leyen wrote: “More than ever we stand firmly by Ukraine. Financially, economically, militarily, morally. Until the country is finally free.”

The remarks came shortly after a Russian drone attack struck a residential building in the southern city of Odesa, killing at least one person and just a week after Ukrainian troops were forced to withdraw from the strategic eastern city of Avdiivka, which they had fought to hold for months. Ukraine’s forces reportedly inflicted thousands of casualties on Russia troops. 

In Kyiv on Saturday, Trudeau laid a wreath at the Wall of Heroes Memorial Wall, an ever-expanding memorial with photo tributes to fallen soldiers.

The visit also comes as Zelenskyy’s government tries to pass a revised bill to expand mobilization in Ukraine. 

A senior Pentagon official recently estimated that Russia has taken as many as 310,000 casualties — both killed and wounded — since the full-scale invasion began.

Ukraine hasn’t published its military casualty figures but informal estimates put its losses in the tens of thousands. Relief organizations estimate more than 30,000 Ukrainian civilians have been killed.

WATCH | Breaking down the state of the war: 

Where Russia’s war with Ukraine stands after 2 years

2 days ago

Duration 3:27

After two years of a battle between Russian force and Ukrainian determination, The National breaks down the state of the war.

Earlier this month, Ukrainian lawmakers passed through first reading a revised mobilization bill after the initial draft of the bill saw significant political and social pushback.

The country’s parliament has tentatively backed the revised draft of the bill.

The legislation would lower the age of military service and make it harder to avoid the draft as Kyiv struggles to find enough soldiers to maintain its defences.

In its current form, the legislation would lower the age at which people can be mobilized for combat duty by two years to 25. Tighter sanctions for draft evasion, including asset freezes, are also included.

A man with brown hair, wearing a navy suit, speaks with soldiers.
Trudeau speaks with Ukrainian soldiers as he visits the Wall of Remembrance in Kyiv, Ukraine on June 10, 2023. (Valentyn Ogirenko/Pool/The Associated Press)

Ukraine’s Ambassador to Canada Yuliya Kovaliv said the mobilization bill is also about creating balance within the Armed Forces because some soldiers have been on active duty for two years without a break.

“We need to provide rotations for them,” Kovaliv told host David Cochrane in a Friday interview with CBC’s Power & Politics.

“So the people need to go home. The people need to have a rest. And we need to recruit more people so there will be a rotation.”

Kovaliv, who recently lost her 35-year-old cousin to fighting at the frontline, said Ukrainian troops’ morale would improve with the delivery of more weapons from western countries.

Trudeau’s visit to Kyiv followed a similar morale-boosting excursion by U.S. lawmakers, who met with Zelenskyy on Friday.

Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer led a congressional delegation to demonstrate U.S. support and increase the pressure on House Republicans to pass a foreign aid bill that includes a further $60 billion in assistance for Ukraine, as well as support for Israel.

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