Zelensky reaches Canada to drum up support for Ukraine war

President Zelensky is expected to address the Parliament, appealing for sustained support in the ongoing war against Russia

| Updated: 22 September, 2023 5:44 pm IST

In a significant diplomatic move, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky reached Canada on Friday, marking his first visit to the nation since the outbreak of the Russia-Ukraine war. The visit comes at a time when international partners are grappling with the question of how to sustain aid to Kyiv.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau welcomed President Zelensky and the First Lady as they disembarked from their aircraft on the airport tarmac in Ottawa. This warm reception on Canadian soil followed Mr. Zelensky’s visit to Washington, where he had sought to secure additional funding. However, it remains uncertain whether the U.S. Congress will endorse further aid for Ukraine.

President Zelensky’s arrival marks the first in-person presence in Canada since the beginning of the military conflict. He had previously addressed the Canadian Parliament via video link.

During this visit, the President is expected to once again address the Parliament, appealing for sustained support from a country that has already provided weaponry, tanks, and training to Ukrainian soldiers.

Canada’s assistance package to Ukraine has amounted to approximately $6 billion thus far, with Prime Minister Trudeau reiterating his nation’s commitment to Ukraine as recently as June. In addition to his parliamentary address, President Zelensky is scheduled to meet with business leaders in Toronto as part of his visit to Canada.

Earlier in the week, President Zelensky passionately appealed to world leaders at the United Nations in New York, urging them to continue supporting Ukraine in the ongoing conflict with Russia. His plea underscores the escalating diplomatic tensions amid recent criticism directed at Poland, Slovakia, and Hungary for their bans on Ukrainian grain imports.

In the United States, Republican doubts about funding the war have grown despite President Biden’s appeals not to abandon Ukraine. The US Congress has authorised over $110 billion in aid to Ukraine, yet polls indicate declining American support for further expenditure. Some Republicans argue for redirecting the funds toward domestic issues.

Nevertheless, during President Zelensky’s visit, President Biden approved additional funding for Kyiv, valued at $325 million, which includes upgrades to air defences, albeit without the long-range missiles President Zelensky had requested.

Poland’s announcement that it would cease sending new weapons to Ukraine and prioritise its own defence with modern weapons adds to the evolving dynamics in the region.

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