Addressing the House of Commons Tuesday night, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen praised Canada for standing with Europe in supporting Ukraine’s defence against Russian aggression.
She told parliamentarians that the ties between Canada and Europe have only been strengthened by Russia’s war, which she described as a challenge to democracy.
“Hard times reveal true friends,” she said. “This is what the European Union and Canada are.”
“[Russian President Vladimir] Putin refuses to recognize [Ukrainians’] freedom and their independence. And this we can simply not accept.
“We will never accept this threat to European security and to the very foundation of our international community, and I know Canada’s commitment is as adamant as ours.”
The European Commission president applauded Ukraine’s resistance to Russia’s war and Canada for training Ukrainian soldiers through Operation Unifier, which she said “saved Ukraine in the first days” of the invasion.
Before her address, Trudeau introduced von der Leyen as an ardent supporter of Ukraine.
“You are here as an inspirational leader who has been central to galvanizing support for Ukraine and its people,” he said.
Speaking on the eve of International Women’s Day, von der Leyen gave a nod to the women of Ukraine who she said are signing up to join the fight against Russia.
“These women also smashed a glass ceiling over the head of the Russian invaders,” she said.
Earlier Tuesday, Trudeau announced more support for Ukraine and a new hydrogen agreement with Europe.
Canada will extend the Operation Unifier mission to provide engineering training in Ukraine until at least October, and Canadian medical trainers will be sent to help Ukrainian forces learn combat medical skills.
“Canada is doing much more than its fair share already compared to others and is going way beyond what is necessary. So I want to thank Canada for that,” von der Leyen said at a joint press conference with Trudeau.
Trudeau announced that Ottawa will spend $3 million to support efforts to clear landmines and unexploded ordnance in Ukraine, on top of $32 million already committed to that work. The EU is putting 43 million euros toward the same effort.
The EU has now designated Canada as a partner country on economic sanctions against Russia, and the two are working together to send Canadian energy transformers to support the Ukrainian electrical grid. Seven of those transformers are to be delivered soon.
“For as long as it takes, we will stand shoulder to shoulder with our European partners for Ukraine,” Trudeau said.
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