Wed, 29 Nov 2023

Zelenskyy Thanks Canada for Helping Save Thousands of Lives

Voice of America
23 Sep 2023, 10:36 GMT+10

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, speaking Friday to Canada's Parliament, expressed his gratitude for Canada's support of his country, which has been fighting a Russian invasion since February 2022.

'Canadian support for Ukraine with weapons and equipment has allowed us to save thousands of lives,' he said, adding, "Canada's leadership in sanctions against Russia for this war on terror really encouraged others in the world to follow your lead.'

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pledged an additional $482 million in aid for Ukraine. He said the package would include about 50 armored vehicles and F-16 training for Ukrainian pilots.

So far, Canada has provided $5.9 billion in military and other aid to Ukraine. Trudeau promised that Canada would continue to stand "strongly and unequivocally" with Kyiv. "The Ukrainian people are the tip of the spear that is determining the future of the 21st century," he said in a statement.

The two leaders also were scheduled to sign an agreement designed to strengthen economic ties between their countries.

Zelenskyy was heading to Toronto with Trudeau to meet with business leaders and members of the Ukrainian Canadian community. Canada is home to the world's second-largest Ukrainian diaspora, with 1.4 million people of Ukrainian descent.

Zelenskyy's Canadian stops followed a whirlwind Washington visit, during which he won a pledge of continued support from President Joe Biden and delivered a bracing message: Without another tranche of U.S. funding to combat Russian aggression, Ukraine will lose the war.

'The United States is going to continue to stand with you,' Biden told Zelenskyy on Thursday at the White House.

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Biden assured the Ukrainian president that strong U.S. support for his nation's fight against Russian aggression would continue despite opposition from some Republican lawmakers to providing billions more in war funding for Ukraine.

Biden's request for an additional $24 billion in Ukraine aid through the end of the year is tied up in a budget fight in Congress that could lead to a government shutdown after a September 30 deadline.

Asked how to overcome the opposition, Biden said the only way was approval by Congress.

"I'm counting on the good judgment of the United States Congress. There's no alternative,' he said.

Despite the opposition from some Republican lawmakers, the response on Capitol Hill was generally positive to Zelenskyy's urgent plea for supplemental funding.

Graham hears strong case

Speaking to VOA's Ukrainian Service, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said he thought Zelenskyy made a strong case that with America's help, Ukraine would win, and without it, it would lose the war.

"And if [Russian President Vladimir] Putin gets away with this in Ukraine, he will keep going in Europe, and China is likely to invade Taiwan," Graham said.

"If you don't get that, you're missing a lot of history. So, I thought he was compelling, he was humble."

Graham noted that 18 months into Ukraine's war against Russian aggression, not one American soldier has died, NATO is bigger, the Russian economy is crumbling and the Russian military is being decimated. "This has been a good investment for the American people," Graham said.

"This idea that Ukraine doesn't matter, it's a non-event to American national security, I think it's ridiculous. If you don't think China's watching, you are missing a lot, and Putin will keep going. If we beat him in Ukraine, we make the world a better place, and all they need is American military and economic support for a fraction of our defense budget," he said.

Graham expressed optimism that Congress would approve the U.S. aid for Ukraine. "Who wants it on their resume that when the world was challenged, the world order as we know it was under siege, you blinked? ... I'm going to tell my House colleagues: You're writing history for the world. Don't get it wrong."

In her remarks to VOA's Ukrainian Service, Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar expressed confidence there would be bipartisan support in Congress for additional funding.

"There's always going to be some people that have a different view - that's democracy. But the vast majority in the Senate, the vast majority of Democrats and Republicans, are strongly standing with Ukraine," she said.

Security package

Zelenskyy also met with U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin ahead of a Pentagon announcement of a new security package of more air defense and artillery capabilities for Ukraine.

Pentagon press secretary Brigadier General Patrick Ryder told reporters Thursday that "everything is on schedule" for the delivery of M1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine and that if there was a government shutdown, F-16 training in the U.S. for Ukrainian pilots would still take place.

From the beginning of hostilities in February 2022 to May 2023, the U.S. provided more than $76.8 billion in assistance to Kyiv, according to the Council on Foreign Relations.

VOA's Penelope Poulou, Tatiana Vorozhko Koprowicz, Katherine Gypson and Jeff Seldin contributed to this report.

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