Russia’s lethal barrage Monday morning hit several major urban centres, including downtown Kyiv. The attacks killed at least 19 people and injured over 100 more, according to Ukraine’s Emergency Service.
“The Russians’ missile strikes on civilians, on innocent people commuting to work, kids playing in parks, are targeted at civilians and civilian infrastructure,” Trudeau said, speaking at a press conference in Quebec on Tuesday afternoon.
“There’s no military targets in there.”
Russia’s attacks, Trudeau added, are “a recognition that Ukrainians have fought so bravely” and of the fact that “the world has stood so solidly by their sides.” As a result, Trudeau said, “Russia has decided to take this to the next level and attack innocents.”
The prime minister said he spoke with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Monday and reaffirmed Canada’s support for his country as the conflict continues.
“We remain committed to holding this Russian regime to account, and to supporting Ukraine, including with financial, humanitarian sanctions and military assistance,” Trudeau said.
“That’s what I told President Zelenskyy.”
Trudeau pointed to an announcement made earlier in the day on Tuesday as evidence of this commitment.
Defence Minister Anita Anand shared Tuesday morning that Canada will deploy 40 combat engineers to Poland under Operation UNIFIER in the coming weeks. The engineers will train Ukrainian forces in basic and advanced engineering skills, engineering reconnaissance, the use of explosives for demolition work, and demining.
The announcement came amid a two-day meeting of NATO defence ministers, where NATO’s secretary general Jens Stoltenberg also slammed Putin’s recent barrage against Ukrainian civilians.
“What we saw yesterday is actually a sign of weakness, because the reality is that they’re not able to make progress on the battlefield. Russia is actually losing on the battlefield,” he said.
“The way they are able to respond is by indiscriminate attacks on Ukrainian cities, hitting civilians, critical infrastructure and of course, this causes suffering and damage on Ukraine, but in many ways reflects the lack of alternatives for President Putin.”
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Putin has defended the strikes as a response to what he characterized as Ukraine’s “terrorist” action, which included an attack on a bridge connecting mainland Russia to the Moscow-controlled Crimean Peninsula.
The Russian barrage destroyed critical infrastructure and residential areas alike, just hours before Putin was due to hold a meeting with his security council. Ukraine has been waging a successful counteroffensive against Russia since late August, forcing Moscow to pull back troops from some areas in a humiliating defeat.
Zelenskyy said in a video address that the Russian strikes targeted civilian areas and energy facilities in 10 cities. The early-morning timing of the attack, he added, coincided with the timing of many citizens’ commutes and Putin “chose such a time and such targets on purpose to inflict the most damage.”
— With files from Global News’ Aaron D’Andrea
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