Trudeau arrives in Europe to meet with allies on Ukraine response

A GTA-based fundraising initiative has gone viral and been completely overwhelmed with support as they raise money to help Ukrainians. David Zura explains.

By The Canadian Press

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has arrived in Europe to meet with allies about the intensifying situation in Ukraine.

On Monday, Trudeau will compare notes with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson in London, where they will be joined by their Dutch counterpart, Mark Rutte.

In the following days, Trudeau is to meet with other leaders in Riga, Latvia, Berlin and Warsaw, Poland.

He is to meet NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg and visit the Latvian military base where hundreds of Canadian Forces are contributing to Canada’s leadership in that country of NATO’s long-standing deterrence mission to bolster its eastern European flank against Russia.

Trudeau left Canada as plans to evacuate civilians from a Ukrainian port city collapsed for the second time.

Residents expected to leave Mariupol during the 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. local ceasefire, Ukrainian military authorities said earlier in the day, but Interior Ministry adviser Anton Gerashchenko later said the planned evacuations were halted because of an ongoing assault by Russian troops.

It is not possible to know the exact number of people killed so far since the Feb. 24 invasion. The United Nations human rights office said 364 civilians have been confirmed killed, but the true number is likely much higher. Russian and Ukrainian officials have not provided information on military causalities.

The British defence ministry said Sunday in an intelligence update that Russia’s tactics in Ukraine were comparable to their previous pummeling of cities in Chechnya in 1999 and Syria in 2016 with airstrikes and artillery, after Russian forces faced unexpected resistance. The intelligence report said the strength of Ukrainian fighters continues to surprise the Russians, and that the bombing of cities, including Kharkiv, Chernihiv and Mariupol represented an effort to break Ukrainian morale.

In a one-hour conversation on Sunday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan urged Russian President Vladimir Putin to cease the fighting in an attempt to address humanitarian concerns and try to find a political solution.

The Kremlin said Putin replied that Russia’s military action in Ukraine could be halted “only if Kyiv ceases hostilities and fulfills the well-known demands of Russia.”

With a third round of negotiations between Ukraine and Russia set for Monday, the Kremlin said Putin said he hoped Ukraine would fully consider “emerging realities.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has pleaded for a no-fly zone over his country and lashed out at NATO for refusing to impose one, warning that “all the people who die from this day forward will also die because of you.”

But NATO has refused, as Russian President Vladimir Putin has made clear he’d consider such a move a hostile act.

Instead, the alliance of western nations has opted to send weapons and defensive equipment to Ukraine while attacking Russia’s economy.

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Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly has been in Europe over the past few days in meetings with NATO and European Commission officials about ongoing efforts to sanction Russia.

International Development Minister Harjit Sajjan announced plans to travel to Geneva, Switzerland, to meet with the United Nations and other international partners to discuss the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine, as well as the situation in Afghanistan and the global response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

After meetings in Geneva on Monday, Sajjan plans to head to Eastern Europe as well.

Standing with Ukraine

Meanwhile in Canada, rallies in support of Ukraine continued for a second consecutive weekend.

In Toronto, hundreds of people from the city’s Ukrainian community and their supporters – many draped in blue and yellow flags – gathered outside the Russian consulate in midtown to denounce Putin and the invasion.

The Stand With Ukraine rally then marched down to the U.S. consulate on University Avenue, chanting “No fly zone” and “We need action, not just word.”

A few dozen people met Sunday afternoon in Parc LaFontaine, one of Montreal’s largest parks, and marched down the streets to pressure Canadian politicians to do more.

Raymond Legault, one of Sunday’s rally organizers with Quebec’s association Echec a la guerre, called for Russia to stop its assault, and urged all involved parties to negotiate and compromise.

“This is not something you can just brush off and say it’s insignificant,” Legault said. “It’s not. These are huge military powers ? and unfortunately for us little people caught in that sort of crossfire between super powers, there’s nothing much more we can call for than for negotiations.

“We recognize Ukraine’s right to defend their country, but war is not the answer. This has to stop.”

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