The brief trip was supposed to be kept under wraps until after Trudeau left Ukraine, but local officials and media broke the embargo Sunday morning.
During the visit, he is expected to meet in person with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy as Ukrainian forces continue to push back Russian soldiers in a stunning show of courage and defiance that has galvanized supporters around the world.
What the two leaders will discuss is not yet clear.
“The Prime Minister is in Ukraine to meet with President Zelenskyy and reaffirm Canada’s unwavering support for the Ukrainian people,” said a spokesperson for the Prime Minister’s Office on Sunday.
Ukrainian officials have not been shy in emphasizing both their need for more supplies as well as their gratitude for Canadian support in providing weapons, money and diplomatic heft to the effort to isolate Russia for its unprovoked invasion.
Now two-and-a-half months in, the bulk of Russian forces have retreated into the contested eastern Donbas region.
Fighting is intensifying in the area and many expect Russian President Vladimir Putin to level a warning at the West not to interfere while in Moscow’s Red Square on Monday to mark the World War Two commemoration known as “Victory Day.”
Trudeau toured the town of Irpin, just outside Kyiv, which was heavily bombarded by Russian shelling during the advance on Kyiv.
He is set to hold a press conference with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy later Sunday.
Earlier in the day, Trudeau visited the Canadian ebassy in Kyiv, where he was joined by Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland, Minister of Foreign Affairs Melanie Joly and Ambassador of Canada to Ukraine Larisa Galadza to raise the Canadian flag once again.
“This flag came down on February 13 and we’re really glad to be raising it again above the Canadian embassy,” Trudeau said.
“It’s a testament to how the Ukrainian people have been so strong and resilient that they’ve been able to protect their city.”
Trudeau’s visit came on a historic day for Ukraine.
May 8 is the country’s Day of Remembrance and Reconciliation, which commemorates the victims of the Second World War. It comes on the eve of Russia’s so-called Victory Day.
Ukraine stopped celebrating Victory Day in 2015, after the invasion of the Donbas, when it switched the holiday to a day earlier to coincide with Victory in Europe Day, celebrated by the Allies to mark the end of the war.
Hours earlier, Zelenskyy released a powerful black-and-white video to mark the occasion, comparing the Russian invasion of his country to the fight against fascism in the Second World War.
In the video, which spans 15 minutes, Zelenskyy stands outside a bombed apartment building in Borodyanka, near Kyiv, and asks: “Never again? Try telling Ukraine that.”
More to come.
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