Ottawa announces more help for Ukraine as Russian threat mounts

Ottawa is loaning Ukraine $120 million to deal with Russia’s military buildup across the border.

The loan was one of the Ukrainian government’s requests to stave off “economic destabilization” from increased tensions with Russia, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told reporters on Friday.

“We … are looking to do more, and we will have more to say as the situation unfolds,” he said.

“It is extremely disconcerting to see the buildup of Russian troops, to see Russian aggression, Russian cyberattacks, and Russian economic destabilization of Ukraine,” Trudeau continued.

“This is something that nobody in Europe, or around the world, wants to see right now, and we’re using all tools to try to encourage Russia to de-escalate, to solve this diplomatically, to not proceed (in) a further invasion of Ukraine’s territory,” he added.

In an effort to prevent Ukraine from joining NATO, Russia has been stationing soldiers and weapons on its side of the border for months.

On Sunday, Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly travelled to the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv to meet with the nation’s political leaders, after Trudeau and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky spoke on the phone last week.

On Tuesday, Trudeau met with members of his cabinet, Chief of Defence Staff Gen. Wayne Eyre, and interim clerk of the Privy Council, Janice Charette, to discuss the matter.

About 200 Canadian soldiers are on the ground in Ukraine for Operation Unifier, which launched in 2015 to train the local military.

Meanwhile, diplomats from Russia and the U.S. met early on Friday in Geneva to try to diffuse tensions. The two sides agreed to keep talking, and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken agreed to respond in writing next week to Russia’s demand that the West scale back its military presence in the region.

Russia made it known years ago it was opposed to Ukraine becoming a NATO member.

No Russian leader could stand idly by (while NATO considers Ukraine’s membership),” Russian President Vladimir Putin said in 2008. “That would be a hostile act toward Russia.”

Canada will continue supporting Ukraine so that “Ukrainian people get to determine their future, not Vladimir Putin,” Trudeau said Friday.

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