Ukraine's prime minister urges Trudeau, Freeland to visit Kyiv

Ukraine's prime minister says it is safe for Canadian officials to visit Ukraine and resume Canada's diplomatic presence in the country.

'It will be a big honour,' says Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal

Kyiv is safe for Trudeau to visit, Ukraine's PM says

1 year ago
Duration 10:23
Speaking exclusively to Power & Politics, Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal says he is still waiting for an official visit from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, adding his government will ensure the safety of his visit.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal is urging Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland to visit Kyiv as soon as possible.

In an exclusive interview with CBC News Network's Power & Politics on Wednesday, Shmyhal said he and other Ukrainian officials are still waiting for a visit from high-ranking members of the Canadian government. 

"We are waiting [for them] so much," he told host Vassy Kapelos. "We will be very glad. It will be a big honour for us to host your prime minister, your government members."

Shmyhal is the latest Ukrainian official to call on representatives of the federal government to visit Ukraine. Former Ukrainian ambassador to Canada Andriy Shevchenko recently urged officials in Ottawa to come to Kyiv.

Canadian officials are facing increased pressure to fly the flag in Ukraine after a series of visits from other foreign dignitaries. 

Since the situation stabilized in Kyiv and its surrounding suburbs, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and top European Union officials have visited Kyiv to meet with Ukrainian officials and to see firsthand the devastation caused by Russia's invasion.

On Saturday, U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi became the highest-ranking American official to visit Ukraine. 

Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal says officials in Kyiv are still waiting for a visit from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau or Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland. (AP)

Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly told reporters Wednesday that a visit is in the works but — pointing to recent airstrikes on Kyiv and Lviv — added that security remains a concern for visiting Canadian officials.

"Military operations on both sides are continuing in the eastern part of Ukraine and southern part of Ukraine," she said. "We know that the security situation is evolving and we need to assess it and make sure that we take good decisions." 

Shmyhal said the situation in the capital has stabilized and Kyiv is safe for any Canadian willing to travel to Ukraine. 

"I should say that here in Kyiv [it] is relatively safe and relatively quiet because we liberated a key region," he said.

Prime Minister Trudeau responded directly to his invitation ahead of question period Wednesday. He said Canada will always stand by Ukraine but ignored questions about whether he has plans to visit Kyiv.

"Canada has consistently been there for Ukraine," he said. "All of Canada stands in solidarity with Ukraine and will continue to."

WATCH: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is asked about visiting Ukraine

Trudeau discusses whether he will visit Kyiv

1 year ago
Duration 0:18
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says Canada will continue to support Ukraine as Russia pursues its attack.

'Symbol of support'

For Ukraine's prime minister, a visit from Trudeau or Freeland would be more than just an official trip. 

Shmyhal said that, in addition to Canada's financial support, sanctions and supplies of weapons, a visit from officials would send a message of solidarity to Ukraine.

"It will be a big signal and symbol of support for Ukrainians by Canada and the Canadian government," he said.

Shmyhal also said now is the time for Canadian diplomats to resume operations in Kyiv. In the past few weeks, the United States and the United Kingdom have announced plans to reopen their embassies in the country. 

During the early days of the war, Canadian diplomats moved operations from Kyiv to Lviv, and ultimately out of the country, before setting up a satellite embassy in Poland.

"We are waiting for Canada in Kyiv. And I think that it's [a] proper time to reopen your embassy here in Kyiv," Shmyhal said, adding that many of Kyiv's own citizens have returned after fleeing the fighting.

WATCH: Former U.S. national security adviser on the decision to move embassies out of Kyiv

Evacuating Kyiv embassy was a mistake, former top U.S. official says

1 year ago
Duration 7:52
Former U.S. national security adviser H.R. McMaster says he was embarrassed that the U.S. and other allies left diplomatic posts during the early stages of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Joly confirmed Wednesday that Canada's ambassador is going back to Ukraine but did not say whether full embassy operations will resume.

"I can already confirm you that Larisa Galadza, who was our ambassador to Ukraine and stationed in the south of Poland, will be going back," she told reporters in Ottawa.

Former U.S. national security adviser H.R. McMaster argues Ukraine's allies should have stayed put in Ukraine

"We should've never left," he told host Vassy Kapelos. "I was embarrassed that we left and so I'm glad we're getting back. We can't get back soon enough."

With files from the CBC's Chris Rands and David Common