(MENAFN- The Peninsula) AFP
Ottawa: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky met on Friday with close ally Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on a visit to Canada, the third leg in a tour aimed at bolstering international support for his country's struggle to repulse a brutal Russian invasion.
Zelensky, who landed late Thursday in Ottawa, earlier this week addressed the United Nations and stopped in Washington on Thursday for meetings with the US Congress and President Joe Biden, who pledged the imminent arrival of US tanks to boost Ukraine's arsenal.
Canada is home to the world's second largest Ukrainian diaspora and Zelensky, visiting parliament, expressed thanks for the backing given to Kyiv since Russian troops poured over the Ukrainian borders in February 2022.
"Thank you for your support. You've been with us from the first days of the full scale war" and "I hope that you stay with us to our victory," Zelensky said after chatting with a senator of Ukrainian descent who came wearing her grandmother's traditional garb.
Canada has provided Ukraine with $6.6 billion (Can$8.9 billion) in military and other aid and Trudeau vowed that he would continue to stand "strongly and unequivocally" with the pro-Western country.
"The Ukrainian people are the tip of the spear that is determining the future of the 21st century," Trudeau said in a statement.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky greets Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on arrival at Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Canada, on September 22, 2023. (Photo by Dave Chan / AFP)
Zelensky was due to address parliament before flying with Trudeau to Toronto for meetings with business leaders and members of the Ukrainian-Canadian community.
With the Ukrainian cause getting an increasingly chilly reception from the Republican Party in Washington and signs of war fatigue in Europe, Canadian Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said she was concerned about how solid support remains.
"Am I worried about whether the rest of the world, the rest of our allies will continue to be resolute? Of course. You have to work hard to maintain that support, to maintain that coalition," she told public broadcaster CBC on Thursday.
Canada's aid to Ukraine has included more than $1.3 billion in military aid, including Leopard 2 tanks, air defense and artillery systems, anti-tank weapons, drones and other equipment.
It has also trained more than 36,000 Ukrainian soldiers.
"If we can play a role in stiffening the spines of some of our other friends and allies we'll be happy to do that too," Freeland said.
On Thursday, Zelensky confronted weakening political support in the United States for his country's demands for more arms.
"We're with you and we're staying with you," Biden told Zelensky at the White House.
Zelensky praised the pledge of more US weaponry, including air defense systems and the quick arrival of tanks.
But behind the visuals -- firm handshakes across a grand cabinet table and shows of solidarity in the Oval Office -- lay the fact that Zelensky's second wartime trip to Washington was far tougher than the first.
He received a hero's welcome when he visited in December but this time, he spent his closed-door meetings in the US Congress desperately trying to overcome growing war fatigue from Republicans.
Hardline Republicans are threatening to block Democrat Biden's request for a fresh $24 billion aid package for Ukraine, and it has now become caught up in a bitter spending battle that could spark a US government shutdown.
To date, Congress has already approved $100 billion in aid to date, including $43 billion in weaponry.