(Ottawa) Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly is in Ukraine for a two-day visit focused on the return of children kidnapped by Russia.
“Our support for Ukraine’s independence remains unwavering,” she said at a news conference in Kyiv on Friday.
“Those who support Ukraine must stay the course; we cannot afford to lose confidence or falter, not even for a moment. »
Mme Joly met his Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kouleba on Friday. She is also expected to meet President Volodymyr Zelensky.
The Canadian government has not suggested that it would announce significant funding to supplement the 9.7 billion promised by Ottawa for Ukraine through military, development and emigration programs.
Mme Joly instead launched an initiative with Ukraine to seek global help to pressure Russia to bring back thousands of Ukrainian children it expelled from conflict zones, in violation of international law .
The International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant almost a year ago for Russian President Vladimir Putin on suspicion of forcing children from eastern Ukraine to be adopted by Russian families. , while attempting to strip them of any Ukrainian identity.
The new Canadian project aims to raise public awareness of this issue and coordinate awareness campaigns.
“Canada will use its diplomatic network to be able to present and defend these children’s cases, but we will also work with certain countries that have direct contacts with Russia,” explained Minister Joly.
Ottawa says it will also offer all the technical expertise Ukraine needs to help return the children, fewer than 400 of whom have so far returned from Russia.
During his trip, Mme Joly also plans to meet with Ukrainians affected by war, including children, as well as organizations that support victims of sexual and gender-based violence and war-related trauma.
Canada and its allies have pledged to support Ukraine “as long as it takes,” including to contain the risk of Russian aggression after the conflict eventually ends.
Yet public support for Ukraine has declined in countries like the United States, amid persistent inflation and war in the Middle East.
Canada has still not signed a formal bilateral security commitment for Ukraine. Negotiations have been ongoing for months over how much Ottawa will commit to help secure the country.
Dmytro Kouleba welcomed Ottawa’s support, saying through an interpreter that “Canada is one of our closest friends” in part because it raises issues at G7 meetings.
He said negotiations on a security engagement were going well and were not clouded by diplomatic niceties. “We can discuss things, in essence, in a very sincere and open way,” he said.
Next month will mark the tenth anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Crimea, and two years since Moscow began its full-scale invasion of Ukraine.