Justin Trudeau Tries to Distract from Anti-Mandate Trucker Protests with Ukraine Panic

Protestors show their support for the Freedom Convoy of truck drivers who are making their way to Ottawa to protest against COVID-19 vaccine mandates by the Canadian government on Thursday, Jan. 27, 2022, in Vaughan. (Photo by Arthur Mola/Invision/AP)
Arthur Mola/Invision/AP

The government of far-left Prime Minister Justin Trudeau withdrew nonessential personnel from Canada’s embassy in Kyiv, Ukraine, this weekend and sent the nation’s defense minister to the capital to discuss an alleged potential Russian invasion of the country.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau listens to other speakers during a campaign event at VeriForm Inc. in Cambridge, Ontario, on August 29, 2021. - Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's Liberal Party appears to be ceding popularity to its Conservative rivals, according to polls published August 28, 2021, with early elections only weeks away. (Photo by Geoff Robins / AFP) (Photo by GEOFF ROBINS/AFP via Getty Images)

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (GEOFF ROBINS/AFP via Getty Images)

The extensive focus on Ukraine for Canada follows nearly two weeks of elevated coverage of the eight-year invasion of Ukraine by Moscow that became a global priority after President Joe Biden hinted that America would not aid its allies in Kyiv if Russia engages in a “minor incursion” of the country. Tensions between the Biden administration and its counterpart under Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky have escalated since the “minor incursion” remark, culminating with an exasperated Zelensky telling reporters during a press conference Friday that his country has lost nearly $500 million in foreign investment since Biden predicted a further invasion of the country.

It also follows a tumultuous week of domestic politics in Canada. After nearly two years of onerous pandemic lockdown policies under the Trudeau government, a protest convoy organized by truckers across Canada arrived in Ottawa this weekend, flooding the capital with thousands of peaceful protesters demanding the restoration of basic civil rights stripped from Canadians in the name of public health. Police following the event documented no incidents of violence, injuries, or any major disturbances following the peaceful protests.

Trudeau has dismissed the thousands of protesters as a “fringe” minority and fled to an undisclosed location shortly before the truckers arrived in the capital. He has since announced that he tested positive for Chinese coronavirus.

Canadian National Defense Minister Anita Anand arrived in Kyiv on Sunday for meetings with senior Ukrainian officials and to draw attention to Canada’s military support for the country:

In this photo provided by the Ukrainian Defense Press Service, Ukrainian Deputy Minister of Defense Oleksandr Polishchuk, left, greets Canadian Defense Minister Anita Anand in Kyiv, Ukraine, Sunday, Jan. 30, 2022. Russia's foreign minister claims that NATO wants to pull Ukraine into the alliance, amid escalating tensions over NATO expansion and fears that Russia is preparing to invade Ukraine. In comments on state television Sunday, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov also challenged NATO's claim to be a purely defensive structure. (Ukrainian Defense Ministry Press Service via AP)

In this photo provided by the Ukrainian Defense Press Service, Ukrainian Deputy Minister of Defense Oleksandr Polishchuk, left, greets Canadian Defense Minister Anita Anand in Kyiv, Ukraine, Sunday, Jan. 30, 2022 (Ukrainian Defense Ministry Press Service via AP).

“At the current time, I think it is important to look at the aid that Canada has announced to date for Ukraine: $340 million (about US$266 million) to support the extension and expansion of Operation UNIFIER, with potentially 400 soldiers authorized under the extension;” Anand told the Kyiv Post, “$120 million (about US$94 million) loaned to Ukraine announced last week; $50 million (about US$39 million) announced this week for economic development.”

Anand said that “all options do remain on the table” regarding Canadian support for Ukraine in the event of a further Russian invasion, including offering Ukraine more weapons. “We will make decisions based on the needs on the ground in Ukraine, as well as our capacity at home and in our other missions around the world.”

Anand met with Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov on Sunday.

On Monday, the Global and Mail reported that Anand had alerted Ukrainian officials that Canadian troops had moved west of the Dnieper River, a position that would allow a quicker response should Russia cross the border into Ukraine.

The Trudeau administration announced this weekend that it would withdraw non-essential staff from its Kyiv embassy, hundreds of miles from the Russian border, and the families of those remaining – a move following the Biden administration’s last week, which outraged the Ukrainian government. On Friday, Zelensky told reporters that the panic coming from Washington had resulted in the withdrawal of $437 million dollars in foreign investment from Ukraine within a little over a week, necessitating the use of gold from government coffers to stabilize the national currency, the hryvnia.

“I mentioned this to President Biden … we need to stabilize the economy of our country because of those signals which say that tomorrow there will be war,” Zelensky said referring to a call with Biden on Thursday, “because these signals were sent by even leaders of the respected countries, sometimes they are not even using diplomatic language! They are saying, ‘Tomorrow is the war.’”

Zelensky, speaking from Kyiv, urged journalists circulating reports that Kyiv was on the brink of invasion to simply visit the city.

“If they want to know what the situation is, they can come to Kyiv. Do we have tanks on the street? No,” Zelensky asserted. “The feeling is, if you’re not here, the feeling is … the image that mass media create is that we have troops on the roads, we have mobilization, people are leaving for places – that’s not the case.”

“We don’t need this panic,” he said.

Zelensky also told reporters that, according to Ukrainian intelligence, the number of Russian troops near the Ukrainian border currently is not significantly different than during the same time of year in 2021, when the country’s political woes did not make international headlines.

In remarks during her trip on Sunday, Anand addressed the fact that the reports from the United States and Western Europe differed significantly from what the president of Ukraine was saying about the situation in Ukraine.

“It is difficult for me to say what intelligence the Ukrainian government has,” she told reporters, according to the CBC. “The intelligence we are utilizing is consistent with our allies across the NATO alliance.”

Anand insisted that there was “intelligence that is sound, that there is increasing escalation of Russian troops at the Ukrainian border, including in Belarus.”

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