Ukraine’s Zelenskyy blasts Russian ‘genocide’ before Canadian parliament

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has issued a forceful rebuke to Russian “genocide” from the floor of Canada’s Parliament, as he continues to rally support for his war-torn country.

“Moscow — now, as always — is bent on controlling Ukraine and makes use of all available means to do that, including genocide,” he told a packed House of Commons in Ottawa on Friday.“It is genocide, what Russian occupiers are doing to Ukraine,” he said. “And when we want to win, when we call on the world to support us, it is not just about an ordinary conflict. It is about saving [the] lives of millions of people.”

Zelenskyy’s fiery speech, delivered in English, marks his latest appeal to world leaders as he completes a whirlwind tour of North America, which began earlier this week with an appearance at the United Nations in New York.

But the Ukrainian leader’s warm reception in Canada marked a stark contrast to what he experienced a day before, as he visited the US legislature in Washington, DC.

Zelenskyy faced a Republican Party more vocal about curtailing support for Ukraine, as the deadline to pass budget legislation looms, with just over a week remaining.

The Ukrainian president’s request to speak before a joint session of the US Congress was also declined, with House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy telling reporters, “We just didn’t have the time.”In Canada, leaders gave the Ukrainian president the rare honour of delivering a second address before Parliament.

He had previously spoken to the legislature via video in March 2022, just weeks after Russia launched its full-scale invasion of his country.

Few other world leaders have had the opportunity to speak twice before Canada’s Parliament.They include such notable figures as South Africa’s Nelson Mandela, the UK’s Margaret Thatcher and US Presidents Dwight Eisenhower and Ronald Reagan.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau introduced Zelenskyy on Friday with remarks that included a pledge for increased aid to Ukraine.

“Canada has provided nearly nine billion [Canadian] dollars in military, financial and humanitarian support to Ukraine since Putin began his war of aggression,” Trudeau said.

“We are making a longer-term, multiyear commitment that provides predictable steady support to Ukraine. It will include 650 million [Canadian] dollars over three years for 50 armoured vehicles, including medical evacuation vehicles that will be built by Canadian workers in London, Ontario.”Trudeau also announced funding for mental health initiatives helmed by Ukraine’s First Lady Olena Zelenska, saying, “The toll of this war on the mental health and wellbeing of Ukrainians is immeasurable.”

Zelenska was in the audience, along with Ukrainian Defence Minister Rustem Umerov and the family of a Canadian volunteer, Antony Ihnat, who was killed earlier this month during a Russian missile attack in Ukraine.

While much of the focus was on Russian aggression, Trudeau took a swipe at China as well in his introductory remarks, mentioning its detention and release of two Canadian citizens: Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor.

“There are countries that are bending or breaking the rules,” Trudeau said.

“In this era of uncertainty and resurgent great-power competition, rules are what will protect us. And it’s not enough for them to be written down somewhere. We must advocate for them, stand up for them and live by them. History will judge us on how we defend democratic values.”

He called Ukraine “the tip of the spear” in that fight.

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