Trudeau promises surveillance gear to Ukraine, invites Zelensky to address Parliament

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who is visiting Germany, has told Ukraine's president that Canada is sending cameras for surveillance drones to help Ukrainian forces track the Russian military, a source with knowledge of the file says.

Canada pledges additional $50M in military and humanitarian aid

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau places flowers at the Platform 17 memorial at the Grunewald S-Bahn train station in Berlin, Germany on Wednesday, March 9, 2022. The station was used to deport Jews from Berlin during the Holocaust. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

On a day when he was given a stark reminder of wars past and present, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Wednesday that he believes that Ukraine will win its war with Russia — even as he wondered what the cost would be.

Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelensky posted video online Wednesday of what is believed to be the ruins of a hospital maternity ward in the southern port city of Mariupol — a hospital he said was bombed by the Russians.

Zelensky asked how long the world is "willing to be an accomplice to terror" and suggested that by refusing to implement a no-fly zone, the West is losing its humanity.

Canada's deputy prime minister said the images are hard to watch but western allies are working on "new and innovative ways" of striking back at Russia.

"I have to stop looking at them," Chrystia Freeland said of the videos. "It is an atrocity, what is happening in Ukraine. And I think a person would have to have a heart of stone to not be moved, and to not be moved by the appeals of President Zelensky."

WATCH: Russian strike on maternity hospital 'an atrocity,' Ukrainian president says

Russian airstrike on maternity hospital 'atrocity,' says Zelensky

2 years ago
Duration 1:36
A maternity hospital in the besieged southern city of Mariupol has been severely damaged after a Russian airstrike, says Ukraine.

While she offered no specifics, Freeland said no one should underestimate "the power of the world's democracies working together with Ukraine to come up with new creative ways to support Ukraine."

Speaking earlier Wednesday before the non-profit association Atlantik Brucke and the Munich Security Conference — a Berlin-based think tank — Trudeau said that many have argued the only good way to help Ukraine is through military action.

The prime minister disagreed, arguing that since the Second World War, the international community has developed "more and better tools" — a reference to economic sanctions, which he said can be far more effective than "tanks and missiles."

This image taken from video issued by Mariupol City Council shows the aftermath of an attack on Mariupol Hospital in Mariupol, Ukraine, Wednesday March 9, 2022. A Russian attack severely damaged the children's hospital and maternity ward in the besieged port city, Ukrainian officials said. (The Associated Press)

Someone asked Trudeau if he thought Ukraine would win.

"Yes, I do. Unquestionably," he replied. "The question is how long it's going to take, how we manage to get there with the least amount of loss possible."

Prior to his first bilateral meeting with Germany's new chancellor, Trudeau spoke with Zelensky, telling him Canada will ship Ukraine more specialized military equipment. 

The federal cabinet has approved an additional $50 million in military and humanitarian aid, Trudeau said during a media availability at the German Chancellery building on Wednesday. Trudeau also invited Zelensky to address Parliament virtually — something the embattled president has agreed to do.

  • What questions do you have about Russia's invasion of Ukraine? Send an email to ask@cbc.ca.

The latest batch of Canadian military equipment includes cameras for surveillance drones to help Ukrainian forces keep an eye on Russian troops, tanks and artillery.

"We have obtained a number of specialized equipment, including cameras used in drones that a Canadian company makes, that we will be able to start sending in the coming days towards Ukraine," Trudeau said. 

All allied nations that have been shipping arms to Ukraine have had to fly the equipment to neighbouring countries and then drive the aid over the border. Russia has been growing increasingly angry over efforts to equip Ukraine's defenders and U.S. intelligence has warned it may strike at the supply lines. 

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, right, welcomes Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for a meeting at the chancellery in Berlin on Wednesday. (Michael Sohn/The Associated Press)

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said in an interview with CBC News that an attack on allied supplies on alliance territory would be a grave escalation. 

"As you well know, there are challenges at the borders in terms of getting equipment securely across and into Ukrainian hands, but we are working through that with partners, alongside all allies who are facing the logistical challenges that are real but not insurmountable," Trudeau said. 

Ukraine has struggled with reconnaissance and has relied partly on civilian drone enthusiasts to help repel the invasion.

Poland recently proposed to hand over its entire stock of Soviet-era MiG29 jets to Ukraine by flying them to the U.S. air base in Ramstein, Germany. The Pentagon has rejected the offer and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz poured further cold water on the idea, telling reporters on Wednesday that his country doesn't support the plan. 

"Today is about peace. That is what the people [of Ukraine] who are under shelling deserve," Scholz said during his welcoming address, while noting he and Trudeau also spoke about climate change and energy security.

WATCH | Tom Lawson, former chief of the defence staff, on Russia's targeting of Ukrainian civilians 

Russian 'war crimes' in Ukraine may force rethink of NATO posture: Retired general

2 years ago
Duration 7:22
"We see yet another example of the targeting of civilians. This is a war crime," said retired General Tom Lawson, former chief of the defence staff, of the apparent Russian airstrike on a maternity ward in Mariupol. "We may see that NATO has to rethink...how they go forward with Russia."

Ever since it lost the Second World War to the Allies, Germany has been one of the most pacifist nations in Europe. It recently reversed decades of foreign policy by providing weapons to Ukraine.

Germany has been in an uncomfortable position throughout the crisis because of its dependence on natural gas from Moscow.

Earlier, Trudeau was given a reminder of the horrors of the Second World War when he visited a Holocaust memorial at Platform 17 in western Berlin.

The train station is where tens of  thousands of Jews were deported from the city to death camps during the Nazi regime.


Murray Brewster

Senior reporter, defence and security

Murray Brewster is senior defence writer for CBC News, based in Ottawa. He has covered the Canadian military and foreign policy from Parliament Hill for over a decade. Among other assignments, he spent a total of 15 months on the ground covering the Afghan war for The Canadian Press. Prior to that, he covered defence issues and politics for CP in Nova Scotia for 11 years and was bureau chief for Standard Broadcast News in Ottawa.

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