President Volodymyr Zelensky warned during a visit to Canada’s capital on Friday that pulling back on support for Ukraine would erode its war effort and ultimately lead to further aggression by Russia, with dire consequences.
“I believe that you’re supporting either Ukraine or Russia,” he said at a news conference in Ottawa shortly after he addressed Canada’s Parliament on Friday. “By weakening the support of Ukraine, you’re reinforcing Russia.” He added that history shows the consequences of a empowered Russia.
Mr. Zelensky added that while Ukraine is grateful for all the military and financial assistance it has received, nevertheless “the largest price, this is something that Ukraine has paid because we are paying with the lives of our people.”
Earlier Mr. Zelensky told a special session of Parliament that Russia is conducting a genocide in Ukraine.
“It is genocide, what Russian occupiers are doing to Ukraine,” Mr. Zelensky said. “It is not just about an ordinary conflict. It is about saving lives of millions of people.”
“This Russian aggression must end with our victory so that Russia will never bring back genocide to Ukraine,” he added.
The speech to the joint session of Canada’s House of Commons and Senate was the most widely anticipated event in his first trip to the country since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. The audience, which included guests as well as lawmakers, repeatedly interrupted Mr. Zelensky with standing ovations.
Mr. Zelensky thanked Canada for its military and humanitarian assistance as well as its support for Ukraine’s entry into NATO. He also urged Western nations to seize Russian assets and use them as reparations for Ukraine as well as to bring “Russia to justice for the crime of aggression itself.”
The address followed a meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who has been a particularly strong supporter of Ukraine, reflecting a consensus among Canadians. His country has the largest population of expatriate Ukrainians aside from Russia, and Mr. Trudeau’s government has provided about $3.7 billion in financial assistance to Ukraine and an additional $1.3 billion in military aid. About 175,000 Ukrainians have found refuge in Canada since the Russian invasion began.
The Canadian prime minister greeted Mr. Zelensky at a 19th-century building in Canada’s Parliamentary complex that has become the temporary home of the House of Commons, which is being renovated.
Before Mr. Zelensky spoke, Mr. Trudeau told the special Parliamentary session that Ukraine’s fight is a battle for a world governed by rules and laws.
“President Zelensky, you and the Ukrainian people are holding the rules-based order in the balance,” Mr. Trudeau said. “You are on the front lines, not just the fight for Ukraine.”
Mr. Trudeau characterized the conflict as “a challenge on a generational scale, a challenge that history will judge us on, a challenge we must confront with lionhearted courage.”
The prime minister announced that Canada will expand its aid by adding 50 Canadian-made armored vehicles, including some that will be equipped as field ambulances, assistance that will cost about $480 million. Mr. Trudeau told the news conference that a previously announced $370 million in military assistance will include pilot and maintenance crew training for the F-16 jets that Ukraine is receiving from Denmark and the Netherlands, 35 drones with high-resolution cameras, tank maintenance and small arms ammunition.
Mr. Trudeau said that Canada is also working with other Group of 7 industrialized nations to examine further Russian asset seizures, including $200 billion to $300 billion in Western banks that belong to Russia’s central bank.
Mr. Zelensky, who spoke to Canada’s Parliament virtually last year, joined a small list of leaders who have twice addressed it, a group that includes Nelson Mandela, Ronald Reagan and Winston Churchill.
Mr. Zelensky left Ottawa for Toronto and a private meeting with businesspeople. Then in a military drill hall after a fiery introduction from Mr. Trudeau, Mr. Zelensky was met by a cheering invitation-only crowd dominated by Ukrainian Canadians, many of them in traditional clothing. He thanked their ancestors for maintaining Ukrainian culture when the country was under Soviet domination.
“The victory will be ours,” he said. “I have no doubt.”