Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy told Prime Minister Justin Trudeau Sunday that his stance on sanctions against Russia “must be principled” at a time when relations between Canada and the embattled country are somewhat strained.
Zelenskyy shared his comments on Twitter after the leaders held a phone call to discuss Canada’s controversial decision to send repaired parts of a Russian natural gas pipeline back to Germany.
In a short statement, Zelenskyy said he thanked Trudeau for the continued powerful defense support, but also spoke about the importance of upholding the sanctions.
“After the terrorist attacks in Vinnytsia, Mykolaiv, Chasiv Yar, etc. the pressure must be increased, not decreased,” he said.
An official account of the discussion has not yet been released by the prime minister’s office.
Canada agreed earlier this month to grant an exemption to the economic sanctions issued against Russia in response to the invasion of Ukraine.
The two-year waiver would allow six Siemens Energy turbines, which were in Montreal for repairs, to be returned to Germany for use in the Russian state-owned Nord Stream 1 pipeline.
Trudeau has previously defended the decision and said Canada’s German ally relies on the natural gas supply from the pipeline. In a written and video address last week, however, Zelenskyy called the move “absolutely unacceptable.”
Russian state-owned energy company Gazprom reduced gas deliveries from its Nord Stream 1 pipeline, which runs to northeastern Germany, by 60 per cent last month, citing turbine-related technical problems.
The Ottawa chapter of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress has planned a protest on Parliament Hill on Sunday afternoon to urge the government to revoke the waiver.
“Both Canada and Germany, we feel, have been manipulated here by the Russians,” said Ukrainian Congress national executive director Ihor Michalchyshyn ahead of the planned protest.
The group contends Canada bowed to Russian blackmail and set a dangerous precedent that will lead to the weakening of the sanctions regime imposed on Russia.
“This is a decision that has angered Canadians and the Ukrainian government as well,” Michalchyshyn said.
He said Ukrainian-Canadians involved in his group initially expressed surprise and disappointment when they learned that Canada would allow the turbines to be returned.
The Ukrainian Canadian Congress is expected to appear at a foreign affairs committee meeting to discuss the decision, along with the ambassadors of Ukraine, Germany and the European Union to Canada.
Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly and Natural Resources Minister Jonathan Wilkinson have also been summoned to the committee to answer questions about the exception.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 17, 2022.