A Ukrainian delegation of MPs visiting Ottawa is urging the federal government to quickly provide more military assistance, saying the country needs lethal weaponry to defend itself against Russian forces.
The group this week met with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland and a handful of ministers, senators and MPs from all parties in an effort to rally more support. The Ukrainian MPs listed three priority areas in which they said their country needs more help: further sanctions on Russia, financial assistance – and more weapons.
“If you want to give humanitarian aid to Ukraine, give us more weapons and now, urgently,” said Ivanna Klympush-Tsintsadze, an MP and chair of the committee on European Union integration, in a Globe and Mail interview, describing the delegation’s main message to the Canadian government.
“We didn’t hear a no, we heard that there is a willingness to do more.”
Canada has sent several tranches of military equipment to Ukraine, including anti-tank weapons, since Russian forces first attacked in late February. But Defence Minister Anita Anand has said the Canadian Armed Forces’ stockpile of available equipment is now tapped out. She and Trudeau have said the government is instead looking at buying off-the-shelf weapons for Ukraine.
Yevheniya Kravchuk, an MP and deputy chair of the committee on humanitarian and information policy, said in a press conference Friday that the Ukrainian army has been liberating villages in key regions, and that “we cannot do this with rifles. We have to have heavy weaponry to kick Russians from our territory.”
Ms. Klympush-Tsintsadze said if Canada cannot deliver from its own supply, she hopes the government will allocate additional funds to purchase weapons for Ukraine, noting that “that would make a difference on the ground.”
On Friday, Trudeau heard from cabinet ministers and senior government officials during a meeting of the “incident response group” to discuss the war in Ukraine.
“The prime minister and ministers discussed the humanitarian, financial and military aid that Canada has provided to Ukraine to date, and explored options to further respond to Ukraine’s evolving needs in the face of Russia’s ongoing aggression,” the Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement about the meeting.
The Canadian government is also working on a financial initiative that would allow other countries to donate money to Ukraine and help its economy, according to Ms. Klympush-Tsintsadze. In addition to that effort, she said she is “hopeful” more money will be committed to Ukraine in the federal budget, which will be tabled next week.
The five Ukrainian MPs will travel back to Washington D.C., for more meetings there, before heading home to Ukraine.
Ms. Klympush-Tsintsadze said her trip away from Ukraine was emotional. As she flicked on the interactive map on the plane, showing “this little country of ours on the map, and the huge country that is attacking us.”
“That was the first time that actually brought me to tears,” she said, noting now is not the time for emotions, though she doesn’t know how the trauma will affect everyone.
She said she wanted to emphasize how urgent it is to sustain attention, engagement and commitment to supporting Ukraine.
“It’s not Ukraine’s war. It’s Russian war against humanity and genocide against Ukrainian people and Russian war against the world order, values, democracy, the world that allows us to flourish, that allows you to flourish.”
Ms. Kravchuk said a good reminder of the war took place in Mr. Trudeau’s office on Thursday.
“On my phone, the air siren went on and that meant that in the neighbourhood where my eight-year-old daughter resides, there was an attempted air attack and my daughter had to go to basement instead of going to school,” she said. Her husband is a police officer who is fighting Russian forces.
“The time is crucial for us. To be slow means to fail, so we ask for the support to be in time, to be fast, and we will win.”
With reports from The Canadian Press
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