Trudeau extends Ukraine training mission, meets with allies over deadly incident in Poland
NATO, Poland say it appears killing of 2 civilians was result of errant Ukrainian missile
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is extending Canada's training mission of Ukrainian soldiers and condemned Russia's assault on Ukraine, after a missile killed two people in nearby Poland.
Trudeau announced on Wednesday that a mission to train Ukrainian soldiers in Britain as part of what's called Operation Unifier, which has been ongoing since 2015, will be extended up to the end of 2023. The announcement came just days after Canada pledged another $500 million to support Ukraine's military.
Polish media reported that two people died Tuesday afternoon after a projectile struck an area where grain was drying in Przewodow, a village near the border with Ukraine. Both Poland and NATO said Wednesday that it was likely not an intentional attack by Russia and was instead an errant Ukrainian missile.
Trudeau told reporters on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Bali, Indonesia, that there must be an investigation into what happened and no escalation, but said Russia bears the blame for starting the conflict.
"One thing is absolutely clear, whether it was direct or indirect responsibility: Russia is responsible for what happened."
He spoke alongside British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, who echoed Trudeau's views.
"I think the right thing now is for everyone to just calmly ascertain exactly what happened, gather the facts," Sunak said.
"Until we have a definitive answer, it's right that everyone just remains calm."
The pair also spoke on Wednesday with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
"We stressed the importance of a full investigation into what happened in Poland, and we made it clear that Putin's invasion of Ukraine is ultimately to blame for this violence," Trudeau said in a news conference.
G20 closes with climate pledge
As the G20 summit came to a close, the G20 Research Group said Canada is walking away with most of what it wanted from the meeting.
Canada has been pushing countries to further isolate Russia for its invasion of Ukraine, which many developing nations want to avoid as they try to preserve relations with Russia and the West.
In the final communiqué, leaders took note of existing United Nations votes that call on Russia to withdraw from Ukraine and said the war is hurting the global economy.
They also endorse a call for a global fund to prevent pandemics, though countries have pledged a fraction of what's needed to get the fund off the ground.
The G20 leaders also committed to aim for the United Nations target of containing global warming to 1.5 C, including a side deal aimed at helping Indonesia wean itself off coal.
Defence missile likely cause: NATO, Poland
Earlier Wednesday, Trudeau took part in a meeting with all other G7 leaders as well as the Netherlands and Spain who are members of the NATO military alliance.
In a joint statement, the leaders said they "condemn the barbaric missile attacks that Russia perpetrated on Ukrainian cities and civilian infrastructure."
The leaders reaffirmed their support for Ukraine and the Ukrainian people in the face of ongoing Russian aggression, "as well as our continued readiness to hold Russia accountable for its brazen attacks on Ukrainian communities."
Trudeau's comments came before Poland said Wednesday there was "absolutely no indication" that the missile was a intentional attack on the NATO country, and that neighbour Ukraine likely launched the Soviet-era projectile as it fended off a Russian air assault that savaged its power grid.
"Ukraine's defence was launching their missiles in various directions and it is highly probable that one of these missiles unfortunately fell on Polish territory," said Polish President Andrzej Duda. "There is nothing, absolutely nothing to suggest that it was an intentional attack on Poland."
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, at a meeting of the military alliance in Brussels, agreed with the assessment.
"An investigation into this incident is ongoing and we need to await its outcome. But we have no indication that this was the result of a deliberate attack," Stoltenberg told reporters.
WATCH | Missile strike on Poland is ultimately Russia's fault: ambassador
The preliminary findings came after U.S. President Joe Biden and other Western backers of Ukraine had thrown their weight behind the investigation amid repeated assertions from Russia that it didn't fire the missile.
Biden earlier said it was "unlikely" that Russia fired the missile given its trajectory, but said: "I'm going to make sure we find out exactly what happened."
Russia slams 'hysterical' response
Ukraine described Tuesday's missile attacks on its infrastructure as some of the most extensive since Russia's invasion in late February.
Former Soviet-bloc country Ukraine maintains stocks of Soviet- and Russian-made weaponry, including air-defence missiles, and has also seized many more Russian weapons while beating back the Kremlin's invasion forces.
Ukrainian air defences worked furiously against the Russian assault, including in Ukraine's western region that borders Poland. Ukraine's military said 77 of the more than 90 missiles fired were brought down, along with 11 drones.
The NATO alliance was formed after the Second World War as a check against the Soviet Union and currently has 30 members spread across North America and Europe.
The keystone of its founding treaty, Article 5, stipulates that any "armed attack" against one member constitutes an attack against all, and may trigger a self-defence response from allies as a bloc.
Article 4 says member states can convene a consultation with other members if they feel their security or independence are threatened.
The Kremlin on Wednesday denounced Poland's and other countries' reaction to the missile incident as "hysterical" and, in rare praise for a U.S. leader, hailed the "restrained and much more professional" reaction of the U.S.
"We have witnessed another hysterical, frenzied, Russophobic reaction that was not based on any real data," Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Wednesday.
He went on to say that "immediately, all experts realized that it could not have been a missile linked to the Russian armed forces."
With files from CBC News and The Associated Press