Trudeau talks to Zelenskyy, promises more surveillance help
March 9, 2022
Canada will supply additional aid including sophisticated cameras to outfit surveillance drones over the skies of Ukraine -- the latest in a series of moves rolled out as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau vowed more help for the embattled country’s president Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
A railway platform where the first German Jews were forced onto trains bound for concentration camps in the Second World War formed the backdrop for Trudeau’s third day in Europe amid international efforts to halt Russia’s advance in Ukraine.
Trudeau laid a bouquet of white roses and eucalyptus on the tracks at Platform 17 in western Berlin. It is a permanent memorial to the thousands of Jews deported from Berlin and the six million Jews slaughtered by the Nazis.
The card read “on behalf of Canada” in English, French and German, and with it the prime minister intended to underline Canada’s view of new hostilities shaking Europe and the postwar world order.
With Russia now falsely claiming its invasion is aimed at stopping the “nazification” of Ukraine -- a non-NATO country led by a Jewish president -- Trudeau says the stakes couldn’t be higher.
Trudeau, accompanied by Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly and Canada’s German Ambassador Stéphane Dion, was guided by Aubrey Pomerance, chief archivist of the Jewish Museum Berlin and a dual Canadian-German citizen and several other historical experts.
After laying a spray of flowers on a sunny morning, Trudeau closed his eyes, clasped his hands, bowed his head for a few moments in prayer.
One of the local guides remarked it is ironic that Ukraine’s president is a Jew and his country is under attack.
Trudeau said he’d spoken to Zelenskyy earlier this morning.
A source said Trudeau told Zelenskyy Canada is sending specialized cameras to outfit surveillance drones to help Zelenskyy’s forces against the heavily armed Russian army.
It’s the latest of a series of shipments Canada has sent to Ukraine, including anti-tank systems and rocket launchers.
“We continue constant work with our allies and international partners to hold Russia accountable for its unjustifiable and illegal invasion of Ukraine,” a readout of their call from Trudeau’s office said.
Zelenskyy tweeted they talked about “defence cooperation and how to increase sanctions pressure on Russia. Agreed on further diplomatic steps. Canada stands with Ukraine. We feel it every day.”
Trudeau tweeted he also discussed additional humanitarian assistance for Ukraine.
During the latest crisis, Canada has committed $125 million in humanitarian aid, offered $120 million loan and offered $35 million in development funding to partner agencies in Ukraine.
But NATO allies have refused a no-fly zone over Ukraine, despite Zelenskyy’s pleas.
Nevertheless, Poland said Tuesday it will send its entire Soviet-era fighter jets to Ukraine’s defence -- and the U.S. is “actively” considering sending some of its F-16 fighter jets to “backfill” in Poland.
Trudeau meets German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Wednesday as NATO leaders scramble to help Zelenskyy repel the Russians. The two leaders plan to talk also about climate change, energy security in Europe -- where countries have pledged to reduce reliance on Russian oil and gas -- and about “inclusive growth.”
Overshadowing it all, however, is the crisis in Ukraine, and eastern Europe.
NATO leaders have reassured the newest Baltic states -- the former Soviet republics of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania which joined NATO and the European Union in 2004 --that the allied countries will defend against any Russian attack in their soil.
But the U.S., Canada, UK and Europe say they want to avoid a wider international clash between nuclear-armed forces.
Trudeau is also scheduled to deliver what his office billed as a major foreign policy address to an event hosted by the Munich Security Conference and the Atlantik Brücke -- groups focused on international security issues.
The venue for the speech overlooks the Brandenburg Gate. Trudeau’s speech is expected to focus on democracy and the need for “constant effort to stand up for our shared values and counter authoritarianism,” said his office.