Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Friday that Canada will continue to support Ukraine for “as long as it takes” as Russia’s invasion of the country enters its second week.
Trudeau told members of Toronto’s Ukrainian community that there has been a “slippage” of democracies around the world, with disinformation on social media “turning people against the values” of democracies and countries turning to “slightly more authoritarian leaders.”
“That slippage over the years unfortunately emboldened (Russian President Vladimir) Putin,” Trudeau said.
“Made him think that he could get away with it in Ukraine.”
Trudeau said that after Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014, the West didn’t have a “clear, strong pushback,” noting that the most significant consequence was Russia’s removal from the G8 international group.
After Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, though, Trudeau said the response has been different and there has been “hard” pushback from countries.
Canada and its allies have targeted Russia’s economy with sanctions on the country’s central bank and oligarchs that have contributed to the “rapid collapse of Russia’s economy,” Trudeau said.
Trudeau is scheduled to travel to Europe next week and meet with officials in London, Berlin, Riga, Latvia and Warsaw, Poland, to co-ordinate the response to Russia.
Trudeau noted that the fight against Russia isn’t “just a fight for Ukraine.”
“It is a fight for the integrity, sovereignty and the capacity of people everywhere to pick the path they want for their future,” he said.
Ukraine is currently warding off Russian sieges of its cities, with the sizeable southern port city of Kherson fallen to Russian forces.
Trudeau’s comments come after he defended earlier Friday NATO’s decision to reject a no-fly zone over Ukraine, which he said would lead to an “unfortunate” escalation in the conflict.
“The thing that we have so far avoided — and will continue to need to avoid — is (creating) a situation in which NATO forces are in direct conflict with Russian soldiers,” Trudeau said.
“That would be a level of escalation that is unfortunate that we need to avoid.”
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has called for the no-fly zone to prevent Russian air attacks in the country.
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