Trudeau to attend NATO leaders’ summit as Russia escalates aggression toward Ukraine

By Kelly Geraldine Malone, The Canadian Press

WASHINGTON, D. C. — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will be gathering with NATO leaders today to mark the 75th anniversary of the defensive alliance as Russia escalates its aggression towards Ukraine.

The ongoing battle in Ukraine will top the agenda of the three-day summit following Russian missile attacks Monday which left death and destruction, including at a large children’s hospital in Kyiv.

New robust measures to support Ukraine are set to be announced during the summit and officials say it will include information on the war-ravaged country’s efforts towards NATO membership.

Trudeau will be making forceful comments about the need to stay resolute in backing Ukraine, but Canadian officials will also be facing questions on this country’s record on defence spending.

Members of the alliance agreed to spend the equivalent of two per cent of their national gross domestic product on defence but Canada has long fallen short of the target.

Defence Minister Bill Blair told the Foreign Policy Security Forum in Washington Monday afternoon that Canada has come to the summit with the kind of detailed plan that allies have been asking for.

Kirsten Hillman, Canada’s ambassador to the U.S., has said she’s faced some pressure from American officials, who expect every country to step up as much as they can.

Hillman will join Trudeau Tuesday morning for a meeting with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and bipartisan senators, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, before the prime minister delivers a keynote address at the NATO Climate Change and Security Centre of Excellence. Trudeau will later meet with House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries.

The objectives of the meetings are to talk about how the relationship between the two countries is working, she said, and to ensure that it is “is founded on a strong and stable and predictable rules-based system.”

“And how we can work together to make sure that we make each other more resilient” Hillman said.

Topics such as electric vehicles, critical minerals and energy transformation will be on the table.

Trudeau will be taking meetings with American politicians as the looming possibility of a second Donald Trump administration hangs over the summit.

The prime minister faced criticism after Trump was first elected president in the 2016 U.S. election for being unprepared and their relationship faced struggles throughout the Republican leader’s four-year tenure.

In advance of the upcoming presidential election, Liberal government’s Team Canada has been pounding the pavement across the U.S. to make sure they are prepared for any outcome.

Trudeau talked about the importance of the two countries economic ties in a meeting with Wes Moore, the democratic governor of Maryland, Monday. He emphasized the importance of working together at a time of uncertainty.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 9, 2024.

Kelly Geraldine Malone, The Canadian Press

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