Protesters called on Canada to — quote — “be brave like Ukraine” and uphold economic sanctions against Russia from the lawn of Parliament Hill Sunday afternoon.
The demonstration of about 150 Ukrainian supporters took place just hours after Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy told Prime Minister Justin Trudeau more or less the same thing.
Zelenskyy told Trudeau Sunday that his stance on sanctions against Russia “must be principled” at a time when relations between Canada and the embattled country are somewhat strained.
Zelenskyy shared his comments on Twitter after the leaders held a phone call to discuss Canada’s controversial decision to send repaired parts of a Russian natural gas pipeline back to Germany.
In a short statement, Zelenskyy said he thanked Trudeau for the continued powerful defense support, but also spoke about the importance of upholding the sanctions.
“After the terrorist attacks in Vinnytsia, Mykolaiv, Chasiv Yar, etc. the pressure must be increased, not decreased,” he said.
Spoke to @JustinTrudeau. Thanked for the continued powerful defense support. Reiterated that the international position on sanctions must be principled. After the terrorist attacks in Vinnytsia, Mykolaiv, Chasiv Yar, etc. the pressure must be increased, not decreased.— Володимир Зеленський (@ZelenskyyUa) July 17, 2022
Trudeau released a statement online on Sunday about his conversation with Zelenskyy, writing in part, “We discussed Canada’s strong and ongoing support for Ukraine — and I reaffirmed our commitment to providing the Ukrainian people and government with the assistance and the equipment they need.”
“Canada will keep supporting them as they push back against Russian aggression — and together, we’ll continue to hold the Russian regime accountable,” Trudeau added.
We also spoke about the courage of Ukrainians, which continues to inspire people around the world. Canada will keep supporting them as they push back against Russian aggression – and together, we’ll continue to hold the Russian regime accountable. https://t.co/y30RrUXtIC— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) July 17, 2022
Canada agreed earlier this month to grant an exemption to the economic sanctions issued against Russia in response to the invasion of Ukraine.
The two-year waiver would allow six Siemens Energy turbines, which were in Montreal for repairs, to be returned to Germany for use in the Russian state-owned Nord Stream 1 pipeline.
Trudeau has previously defended the decision and said Canada’s German ally relies on the natural gas supply from the pipeline. In a written and video address last week, however, Zelenskyy called the move “absolutely unacceptable.”
Russian state-owned energy company Gazprom reduced gas deliveries from its Nord Stream 1 pipeline, which runs to northeastern Germany, by 60 per cent last month, citing turbine-related technical problems.
The Ottawa chapter of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress planned the protest on Parliament Hill Sunday to urge the government to revoke the waiver.
“Both Canada and Germany, we feel, have been manipulated here by the Russians,” said Ukrainian Congress national executive director Ihor Michalchyshyn ahead of the planned protest.
The group contends Canada bowed to Russian blackmail and set a dangerous precedent that will lead to the weakening of the sanctions regime imposed on Russia.
“This is a decision that has angered Canadians and the Ukrainian government as well,” Michalchyshyn said.
He said Ukrainian-Canadians involved in his group initially expressed surprise and disappointment when they learned that Canada would allow the turbines to be returned.
The Ukrainian Canadian Congress is expected to appear at a foreign affairs committee meeting to discuss the decision, along with the ambassadors of Ukraine, Germany and the European Union to Canada.
Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly and Natural Resources Minister Jonathan Wilkinson have also been summoned to the committee to answer questions about the exception.
With files from Michelle Morton.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 17, 2022.