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Trudeau says Russia looking for ‘excuses’ to invade Ukraine

Click to play video: 'Canada, allies unite in support of Ukraine to put pressure on Russia'
Canada, allies unite in support of Ukraine to put pressure on Russia
WATCH: Canada, allies unite in support of Ukraine to put pressure on Russia – Jan 19, 2022

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is accusing Russia of looking for “excuses” to ramp up hostilities against Ukraine as NATO allies make another diplomatic push to avoid armed conflict.

Speaking to reporters in Ottawa Wednesday, Trudeau said the Canadian government will continue to support Ukraine “based on what is best for the people of Ukraine and what is best towards keeping peace globally.”

But the prime minister stopped short of saying Canada will follow the U.K.’s lead in providing “defensive” weaponry to Ukrainian security forces.

Asked directly why his government has yet to decide on increased military aid to Kyiv, Trudeau suggested sending weapons could be used as a pretext for Russia to ramp up hostilities.

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Click to play video: 'Canada’s support of Ukraine rooted in keeping peace, supporting people: Trudeau'
Canada’s support of Ukraine rooted in keeping peace, supporting people: Trudeau

“One of the things that we have seen is that Russia is looking for excuses or reasons to continue and even escalate its aggression against Ukraine,” Trudeau said.

“We’re looking at many different factors when we make decisions on how to best support the people of Ukraine. The bottom line is we will be there to continue supporting the people of Ukraine through multiple levels and layers of support.”

Click to play video: 'Canada stands ‘shoulder to shoulder’ with Ukraine, says Foreign Minister Joly amid tensions with Russia'
Canada stands ‘shoulder to shoulder’ with Ukraine, says Foreign Minister Joly amid tensions with Russia

With more than 100,000 Russian troops massing on the Ukrainian border, U.S. and NATO allies have spent weeks warning that Russian President Vladimir Putin is poised to once again invade the former Soviet state.

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Putin has denied any intention of invading Ukraine, claiming the increased military presence is in response to provocations from the West.

Canada and other NATO allies have urged Russia to help craft a diplomatic solution to the current tensions, but a number of Russia’s demands – including forbidding Ukraine from joining NATO – are seen as non-starters.

Trudeau said he’s “extremely concerned” the situation will devolve into armed conflict. Global News reported Monday that Canadian special forces operators have been sent to Ukraine to find ways to assist the government in Kyiv, and to help plan for an evacuation of Canadian diplomatic personnel in the event of a Russian invasion.

Click to play video: 'Questions remain over how much more Canada’s military can help Ukraine'
Questions remain over how much more Canada’s military can help Ukraine

“While I won’t get into operational details, I can tell you the Canadian Armed Forces, the Canadian foreign service, our multilateral partners, we’re all looking at a range of possibilities and contingencies to make sure that we are best able to keep people safe and support the Ukrainian people,” Trudeau said.

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