Zelenskyy visiting Canada for first time since war started seeking to shore up support for Ukraine

22 September,2023 08:52 AM IST |  Toronto  |  AP

Trudeau planned to greet Zelenskyy and also to speak in Parliament in Ottawa on Friday

Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Ukrainian President

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy will address the Canadian Parliament on Friday as he continues his efforts to shore up support from Western allies for Ukraine's war against the Russian invasion. Zelenskyy was scheduled to arrive at Ottawa's airport late Thursday after meeting with US President Joe Biden and lawmakers in Washington, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's office said.

Trudeau planned to greet Zelenskyy and also to speak in Parliament in Ottawa on Friday. It is Zelenskyy's first visit to Canada since Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022. He previously addressed the Canadian Parliament virtually after the war started. Zelenskyy and Trudeau are scheduled to go from Ottawa to Toronto to meet with the local Ukrainian community. Canada is home to about 1.4 million people of Ukrainian descent, close to 4 per cent of the population.

The Ukrainian president is making the trip after stops at the United Nations and the White House. Canada's UN Ambassador Bob Rae said it is important for Zelenskyy to see the extent to which Canada supports Ukraine in the war. "We have done a lot to help him and we need to do more," Rae said. "We're going to continue to do everything we can to support the Ukrainian people."

Canada has provided more than 8.9 billion Canadian dollars (USD 6.6 billion) in support to Ukraine in what Trudeau's government calls the highest per-capita direct financial support to Ukraine in the Group of 7 industrial nations. More than 1,75,000 Ukrainians have come to Canada since the war started and an additional 7,00,000 have received approval to come as part of an initiative that supports temporary relocation of those fleeing the war. The initiative allows for an open work permit for three years with pathways to permanent residency and citizenship.

Zelenskyy is facing questions in Washington about the flow of American dollars that for 19 months has helped keep his troops in the fight against Russian forces. Ukrainian troops are struggling to take back territory that Russia gained over the past year. Their progress in the next month or so before the rains come and the ground turns to mud could be critical in rousing additional global support over the winter. Zelenskyy made his first official visit to Canada in 2019.

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