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6 key moments for Canada since Russia's war in Ukraine began 6 months ago


It has been six months since Russia launched its current attacks on Ukraine on Feb. 24, sparking months of death, destruction, and condemnation from the international community.

From the outset of the invasion, Canada has stood in support of Ukraine, offering financial, military and humanitarian aid, while seeing the House of Commons unanimously declare what has been transpiring in Ukraine a "genocide."

The federal government has also moved in lockstep with other nations in levelling sanctions on an ever-growing list of individuals and entities, pledging further retaliatory measures will come despite Russia pushing back.

With no imminent end in sight, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Monday that while he hopes the war can end "quickly," Canada will "be there to support Ukraine and Ukrainian people with what they need for as long as it takes."

"Ukraine is certainly fighting for itself… But they're also fighting for the rest of us… and that's why we are unequivocal: Putin must not win," Trudeau said.

While the impacts of what the prime minister has called Russian President Vladimir Putin's "illegal, unthinkable invasion" are, of course, most severely being felt in Ukraine, the war has had global political, policy, and diplomatic implications, including here in Canada.

Marking the six-month mark since the war began, looks at six key moments for Canada.


In March, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy brought the realities of war onto the floor of the House of Commons.

In his straightforward and emotional virtual address to Parliament— donning an army green sweater with a Ukrainian flag off to one side in his frame—Zelenskyy implored Canada to further assist his country in its fight against the ongoing Russian attacks.

“We've been friends with you, Justin. But also I would like you to understand and I would like you to feel this. What we feel every day. We want to live and we want to be victorious,” Zelenskyy said, as the full House chamber sat in rapt attention.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy places his hand on his chest as he listens to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau deliver opening remarks before addressing the Canadian parliament, Tuesday, March 15, 2022 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

During his 20-minute address, Zelenskyy called on Canada to continue its military and humanitarian response efforts, and to keep up its sanctioning of powerful and influential Russians until they do not have “a single dollar to fund their war efforts.”

The Ukrainian president also sought to put Canadians in Ukrainian shoes, detailing the realities of Russia’s war. Asking whether Canadians could imagine waking up to bombing in their city, or having their children ask what is going on, having to flee to bomb shelters with limited food, water or connectivity, Zelenskyy painted a grim picture of what at that point was 20 days of war in Ukraine.


Coming on the heels of Zelenskyy's impassioned address, Trudeau's government felt concerted pressure to enhance its defence spending in the April 2022 federal budget.

While a substantial increase to Canada's defence spending may not have previously been on the books, the war in Ukraine saw concerted calls for Canada to fulfill the NATO commitment to spend two per cent of its gross domestic product (GDP) on defence.

The 2022 budget didn't allocate enough for that commitment to be met, though Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland did unveil an $8-billion spending package focused on both further aiding Ukraine, while also shoring up North American defence systems.

In addition to considering domestic defence readiness, the government has pledged “up to” $1 billion in new loans to the Ukrainian government through a new “Administered Account for Ukraine at the International Monetary Fund (IMF)," and committed to offer an additional $500 million in military aid to Ukraine.


In May, Trudeau made a surprise weekend trip to Ukraine.

The visit, meant to show Canada's support for the country, also included the prime minister reiterating the federal government's commitment to military assistance for Ukraine and came alongside another tranche of sanctions against Russia.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, center, and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, attend an award ceremony for a Ukrainian sapper and his legendary dog Patron in Kyiv, Ukraine, Sunday, May 8, 2022. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)

Trudeau was accompanied by Freeland and Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly on the trip. They toured devastation in the Kyiv suburb of Irpin, which was badly bombed by the Russians.

"It is clear that Vladimir Putin is responsible for heinous war crimes. There must be accountability. Canada will support Ukraine as you seek justice for your people who Russia is killing and brutalizing," Trudeau told reporters on the ground.

The visit followed trips to Ukraine made by other world leaders, and was viewed as a key signal of solidarity and strength.


During his trip to Ukraine, Trudeau also announced the reopening of the Canadian embassy in Kyiv. To mark the reopening, he participated in a Canadian flag raising ceremony at the embassy alongside Freeland, Joly and Canadian Ambassador to Ukraine Larisa Galadza.

The embassy had been closed and diplomatic staff were largely relocated in early February, weeks before Russia invaded Ukraine. By the time Canada announced the reopening, the government had already been facing mounting pressure to reinstate a diplomatic presence, as many allies had done.

Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland, Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly, Canada's ambassador to Ukraine Larisa Galadza and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau raise the flag over the Canadian embassy in Kyiv, Ukraine on Sunday May 8, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/CBC News/Pool/Murray Brewster

However, the move was almost entirely symbolic. There's yet to be a full restoration of embassy services, and according to The Canadian Press, as of the end of July the ambassador was still not working out of the embassy for security reasons.

Back home, amid calls from some for the federal government to expel Russian diplomats from Ottawa, the city decided to install blue and yellow "Free Ukraine" street signs in front of the Russian Embassy.


The war in Ukraine has also prompted thousands of Ukrainians to come to Canada, prompting communities across the country to come together to collect supplies and help their new neighbours make homes here.

Since the federal government first announced in March that it would be opening new ways for Ukrainians to seek refuge in this country, approximately 74,500 Ukrainians have arrived in Canada.

Ukrainian nationals fleeing the ongoing war in Ukraine arrive at Trudeau Airport in Montreal, Sunday, May 29, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes

However, less than half of the approximately 495,900 applications received under Canada's emergency travel authorization to travel to and stay in Canada temporarily have been approved, according to the latest federal figures.

And, while Canada still has no plans to send troops into combat in Ukraine, Canadian soldiers are being called upon to help train Ukrainians.

Earlier this month Defence Minister Anita Anand announced that up to 225 Canadian Armed Forces personnel would be deploying to take part in a training mission of Ukrainian soldiers in the U.K. under Operation Unifier.


After months of unshakable unity between Canada and Ukraine, the federal government's decision in July to grant a two-year exemption to federal sanctions allowing a Canadian company to return repaired turbines from a Russian-German natural gas pipeline brought the first real rift between the two countries since the war began.

That was Putin's goal, the federal government has argued, saying that the Russian president's attempts to weaponize energy as a way to drive a wedge between allied countries was really behind Russian state-owned energy company Gazprom turning down the taps of its gas flow through Nord Steam 1 to Germany.

The decision sparked fast and furious reactions from the federal opposition parties in Canada, as well as Ukrainians, including Zelenskyy who called it "a manifestation of weakness." However, the move has been backed by the U.S. and other NATO allies and Canada continues to stand behind it.

Supporters of Ukraine hold a rally against the Canadian government’s decision to send repaired parts of a Russian natural gas pipeline back to Germany, on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, on Sunday, July 17, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

Considerable details were shared by key government and diplomatic players about what led up to Canada making this decision during a special summer parliamentary committee study earlier this month.

"This waiver is not a one time decision. The maintenance of all six turbines in Canada will cement Russia's ability for years ahead to weaponize energy and to derail the efforts to address climate change, and it will be done with Canada's blessing," Ambassador of Ukraine to Canada Yuliia Kovaliv said during testimony on Aug. 4. "We urge you: do not take the bait. There was no need to waive the sanctions to call the Putin regime's bluff… You just can Google the history. This logic of appeasement already failed to prevent the war in Ukraine."

While the turbine has been returned, it remains out of use, prompting Ukrainians to revive calls for Canada to immediately revoke the permit.


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