(Bloomberg) -- Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced C$500 million ($375 million) in new military assistance to Ukraine during a surprise visit to the war-torn country on Saturday.
The Canadian leader and his deputy, Chrystia Freeland, met with President Volodymyr Zelenskiy in Kyiv as Ukraine’s military steps up its efforts to liberate the eastern and southern regions occupied by Russia with a new ground offensive.
Trudeau’s second visit since Russia’s invasion in February 2022 also comes as the Ukrainian government struggles with the aftermath of the destruction this week of the giant Kakhovka dam and resultant flooding.
“Russia is responsible and will be held to account” for the dam destruction, Trudeau said during a joint appearance with Zelenskiy. “We’ve all seen the devastation caused by collapse of the dam. This was a direct consequence of Russia’s war.”
The visit comes a month before a key NATO summit in Lithuania in July; Zelenskiy is expected to attend the gathering in his bid to secure a path to membership for Ukraine. Canada supports Ukraine becoming a member “as soon as conditions allow for it,” according to a joint declaration issued by Trudeau and Zelenskiy.
Trudeau said Canada will contribute to multinational efforts now under way to train Ukrainian pilots on advanced fighter jets. The Canadian leader said Ottawa would contribute to the Leopard 2 tank maintenance center in Poland and will provide 288 AIM-7 missiles to be retrofitted in the US for use in air defense systems. Over 100 Roshel armed vehicles will be delivered in the coming weeks.
Canada has been supplying Ukraine with military support since the war started, including with tanks, air-defense systems and artillery.
“Canada will continue to stand with Ukraine whatever it takes, for as long as it takes,” Trudeau said.
The Canadian government also said it has ordered the seizure of a cargo aircraft grounded in Toronto. The Antonov 124 plane is believed to be owned by a subsidiary of Volga-Dnepr Airlines LLC and Volga-Dnepr Group, which are facing Canadian sanctions, according to a statement from the foreign ministry.
Trudeau and Freeland, whose mother was Ukrainian, arrived in the capital by train on Saturday. Before their meetings they paid respects to fallen Ukrainian soldiers and laid a wreath at St. Mikhaylo, the gold-domed cathedral in downtown Kyiv.
(Updates with details on aircraft seizure in ninth paragraph)
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