Trudeau Visits Ukraine on War’s Two-Year Anniversary, Signs Support Pact

Trudeau Visits Ukraine on War’s Two-Year Anniversary, Signs Support Pact
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau watches as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy takes a salute during a ceremony at Hostomel Airport in Kyiv on Feb. 24, 2024. (The Canadian Press/Nathan Denette)
The Canadian Press

KYIV, Ukraine—Prime Minister Justin Trudeau emerged on Feb. 24 in the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv, joining other world leaders at the site of one of the war’s first and fiercest battles to mark the second anniversary of the brutal Russian invasion, and to sign a new security agreement.

Trudeau appeared at Hostomel airport alongside European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, Italian Premier Giorgia Meloni and Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo in a show of global solidarity.

Behind them, the scorched husks of destroyed aircraft and the blackened walls of the airport just outside the capital served as a stark backdrop, a bitter reminder of the invasion’s earliest days.

“Putin was sure he could easily take strategic targets like this airport. Russian forces tried to make quick work of Hostomel airport—and with it, Kyiv,” Trudeau said in prepared remarks.

“Well, we are standing here today because he was wrong.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin launched his long−feared invasion on Feb. 24, 2022. His paratroopers raided the airport just hours after the start of what he called a “special military operation” in the country.

Two years later, the wreckage of that battle remained strewn behind the leaders as they took their turns at the podium—lingering evidence of both an early triumph as well as the grinding, bloody conflict that continues to rage.

“Putin cannot win,” Trudeau said in his speech. “Ukraine will see victory, just like what happened on this ground two years ago.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy gave a rousing speech in Ukrainian, praising the bravery and sacrifice of Ukrainian troops defending their country, and thanked his western allies.

“Throughout all of this war you have been with us, with Ukrainians,” Zelesnkyy told the leaders at Hostomel.

“It is extremely important to know that Ukraine can rely on such support as yours.”

Former British prime minister Boris Johnson was also on hand for the anniversary, as well as Canada’s Defence Minister Bill Blair and Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland. Absent were countries such as the United States, the United Kingdom, France and Poland, but they signalled their allegiance through public statements on social media.

The new security pact with Zelenskyy Saturday constitutes a long−term commitment to Ukraine’s security, Trudeau said at the end of his visit Saturday.

In addition to $320 million in new military spending, which is due by the end of the year, the deal calls for Canada to grant $2.4 billion in loans for Ukraine, to be administered through the International Monetary Fund. The loans will be used to repair bombed−out roads, pay essential workers, and allow the Ukrainian government to support its people who are living through war, Trudeau said.