Visit of a Canadian delegation to Kyiv | The moment chosen to ‘counter Russian propaganda’

(Ottawa) The visit was organized in the utmost secrecy for security reasons. The 12-hour overnight train journey from Poland to Kyiv from Saturday to Sunday seemed endless. But the message of solidarity that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and two of his ministers delivered orally to President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy was essential.

Posted at 5:00 am

Joel Denis Bellavance

Joel Denis Bellavance
The press

This surprise visit to the Ukrainian capital on Sunday came at a time the Trudeau government deemed strategic: less than 24 hours before the traditional May 9 military parade in Moscow marking victory over Nazi Germany in World War II .


Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was accompanied by Ministers Mélanie Joly (left) and Chrystia Freeland (right) on his surprise visit to Kyiv.

In Kyiv, Prime Minister, Finance Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland and Foreign Minister Mélanie Joly took the opportunity to reopen the Canadian embassy, ​​alongside the announcement of new military aid. Another powerful symbol showing that the illegal war that Vladimir Putin has been waging in Ukraine is far from going according to the Russian President’s plans, says Minister Mélanie Joly.

“We had been working on this visit for some time. But for strategic reasons it was important to go to Kyiv before May 9 to counter Russian propaganda,” the head of Canadian diplomacy said on the phone in a firm voice despite a tiring trip to a war zone.


Specifically, the reopening of the Canadian embassy will make it possible to further strengthen diplomatic ties between the two countries and meet the financial and military needs of the Ukrainian government and the Canadian contribution.

In addition, this will allow Canada to mobilize the efforts of the international community to proceed with demining areas recaptured from Ukrainian forces as quickly as possible.

According to Minister Joly, the task of securing the retaken territory promises to be a Herculean task. The Canadian delegation was able to see this for itself during a visit to Irpin, a town of around 100,000 on the outskirts of Kiev, which was shelled for weeks. Countless posters have already been put up to warn passers-by of mines.


Prime Minister Justin Trudeau looks out the van window at a destroyed bridge in Irpin.

“Irpin is a satellite suburb that might look like Mirabel or even Boucherville. Here young families buy their first condominium, their first house. There are parks and games for children everywhere. It’s very family-friendly,” explained Pretty from Berlin.

[Irpin] was a strategic city for Russia in its goal of capturing Kyiv. Resistance from the local army was very strong, although there were eight Russian soldiers for every Ukrainian soldier. But the Russians mined the entire territory of the city. Landmines are everywhere.

Mélanie Joly, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Canada

Canada, which is the origin of the Convention banning anti-personnel mines, signed in 1997, intends to make the necessary efforts to rid Ukrainian territory of these mines, which can explode without warning. During the visit, Mr. Trudeau also announced financial support to speed up the mapping of cities and offered the services of Canadian experts in the field.

“We will be there to demin Ukraine. There is a lot of work that needs to be done to ensure the population can return safely,” said Fraume Pretty.

“Extremely Determined”

The foreign minister had visited Ukraine in January before Russia invaded the country. The difference between the two visits is striking.

It’s a huge contrast. I see it on people’s faces. There is pain, there is heaviness. The lines are drawn. We see the fear. There is an obvious fatigue. In Kyiv, public places are empty, curfews are constant.

Mélanie Joly, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Canada

As a precaution, the curtains on the carriages of the Canadian delegation were drawn during the outward and return journey. In the streets of Kyiv, the convoy drove with their headlights off so as not to attract attention. As a sign that bombings are still a possibility just outside the capital, Mr. Trudeau and members of the Canadian delegation could hear the sirens wailing shortly after arriving at the Presidential Palace.

“When we heard the sirens, we knew there could be strikes within a 200-kilometer radius of Kyiv. But at the same time, the resilience of President Zelenskyy and his people in the face of the enemy is very inspiring. They are extremely determined,” said Joly planning to visit Ukraine again.

“The fact that we are seeing the maple leaf on the streets of Kyiv again shows that we are there even in the most difficult of times. Canada is Ukraine’s best friend. It was a very important visit. And it certainly won’t be the last. »

This official visit was obviously not without risk. It’s also extremely rare for Justin Trudeau to travel to a war zone with Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland. Because in the event of the death of the first, it is up to Mme Freeland would be given the task of serving as prime minister under an executive order setting the pecking order in Cabinet. If something bad happens to either of them, the longest-serving Secretary, Secretary of Veterans Affairs Lawrence MacAulay, is next in line.

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