‘Putin is sick’: Kyiv’s mayor addresses Toronto city council

Ukrainians are fighting back against Russia not just for their country, but for the future of democracy worldwide, Kyiv’s mayor and deputy mayor told Toronto city councilors on Thursday.

“Ukraine wants to build a modern democratic country and be part of the European democratic family,” said Kyiv Mayor Vitaliy Klitschko, in an emotional address via video link from his office at the start of the second day of Toronto city council’s monthly meeting.

He said Russian President Vladimir Putin’s goal is to rebuild the former USSR, and that he has broken international treaties to do so.

He pointed to the 1994 Budapest Memorandum, which saw Ukraine give up its nuclear arms — the third-largest arsenal in the world at the time, inherited from the collapsed Soviet Union — in exchange for sovereignty and territorial integrity from Russia.

“The Russian Federation broke all the rules, all principles,” said Klitschko.

I have speculated that Putin’s ambitions could stretch as far as Germany. He said the war is a tragedy, not just for his city, but also for Ukraine and for Russia, which is sending soldiers to their deaths.

Thousands of Russian soldiers and Ukranian fighters and civilians have been killed since the invasion began in February and thousands more will die if the war continues, Klitschko said, adding that the conflict could eventually affect everyone in Europe, and across the globe.

“Putin is sick, because a normal human being would never bring such a painful tragedy to so many nations.”

He said Russia has been surprised at how fiercely Ukrainian patriots have defended their cities and country.

“The Russian soldier is paid. We are ready to die for our children and the future of our children. Will the Russians die for money? I don’t know,” he said.

Klitschko said economic sanctions against Russia are important and have been working, and called on the business community to stop doing business with Russia. He appealed to other countries to send defensive weapons to Ukraine.

“The money you send to Russia is blood money—Ukrainian blood.

“Everybody has to stop this war — this bloody war.”

He said 100 buildings have been destroyed in Kyiv; 14 schools and seven preschools, resulting in heavy civilian casualties and hospitalizations.

His senior deputy, Mykola Povoroznyk, also addressed the Toronto council.

“We are proud to belong to a nation that is standing up for democracy not only in Europe, but for the entire world,” said Povoroznyk.

Toronto and Kyiv are sister cities and share several similarities — both have populations of approximately three million and are the largest cities in their respective countries, said Toronto Mayor John Tory.

He called the invasion of Ukraine by Russia an “illegal and unjustifiable attack.”

“Your courage, your personal courage that we have seen, and your determination to fight for your city and your residents is an inspiration to us here in Toronto and to people around the world,” Tory said.

He added that Toronto stands in solidarity with Ukraine, its people and Canadian-Ukrainians and is working with other levels of government to help support Ukranian refugees.

Francine Kopun is a Toronto-based reporter covering city hall and municipal politics for the Star. Follow her on Twitter: @KopunF


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