Local MP Bob Zimmer was among 28 parliamentarians from around the world to condemn the Russian invasion of Ukraine during a meeting of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in the Europe Parliamentary Assembly on Thursday.
“Our hearts are with our friends in Ukraine today as they face a frightening and uncertain future. Canadians stand with you,” Zimmer said during the hybrid winter meeting in Vienna, Austria, according to a news release from his office.
“We share our European neighbours’ concerns around the Russian invasion of Ukraine and in the strongest of terms condemn the actions of Russia. We in Canada have observed with great concern the increasing interest in the Canadian Arctic and its resources also and are concerned. “
Russia launched a wide-ranging attack on Ukraine on Thursday, hitting cities and bases with airstrikes or shelling, as civilians piled into trains and cars to flee.
Ukraine’s government said Russian tanks and troops rolled across the border in a “full-scale war” that could rewrite the geopolitical order and whose fallout already reverberated around the world.
President Vladimir Putin deflected global condemnation and cascading new sanctions, and chillingly referred to his country’s nuclear arsenal. He threatened any foreign country attempting to interfere with “consequences you have never seen.”
After weeks of denying plans to invade, Putin launched the operation on a country the size of Texas that has increasingly tilted toward the democratic West and away from Moscow’s sway.
The autocratic leader made clear earlier this week that he sees no reason for Ukraine to exist, raising fears of possible broader conflict in the vast space that the Soviet Union once ruled. Putin denied plans to occupy Ukraine, but his ultimate goals remain hazy.
Putin justified his actions in an overnight televised address, asserting that the attack was needed to protect civilians in eastern Ukraine — a false claim the U.S. had predicted he would make as a pretext for an invasion. He accused the U.S. and its allies of ignoring Russia’s demands to prevent Ukraine from joining NATO and for security guarantees.
The attacks came first from the air. Later Ukrainian authorities described ground invasions in multiple regions, and border guards released footage showing a line of Russian military vehicles crossing into Ukraine’s government-held territory. European authorities declared the country’s airspace an active conflict zone.
It was reported earlier Thursday, that The Ukrainian national guards lost a battle with Russian soldiers trying to take over the Chernobyl nuclear plant.
The plant was the site of the world’s worst nuclear accident when a nuclear reactor exploded in April 1986, spewing radioactive waste across Europe. The plant lies 130 kilometers (80 miles) north of the capital of Kyiv.
The exploded reactor has been covered by a protective shelter to prevent radiation leaks and the entire plant has been decommissioned.
Zelenskyy said on Twitter that “our defenders are giving their lives so that the tragedy of 1986 will not be repeated.” He added that “this is a declaration of war against the whole of Europe.”
Ukraine’s Health Minister Viktor Lyashko says 57 Ukrainians have been killed as a result of the Russian invasion, and 169 more were wounded.
Zelenskyy has cut diplomatic ties with Moscow and declared martial law.
“As of today, our countries are on different sides of world history,” Zelenskyy tweeted. “Russia has embarked on a path of evil, but Ukraine is defending itself and won’t give up its freedom.”
His adviser Mykhailo Podolyak said: “A full-scale war in Europe has begun. … Russia is not only attacking Ukraine, but the rules of normal life in the modern world.”
While some nervous Europeans speculated about a possible new world war, the U.S. and its NATO partners have so far shown no indication they would join in a war against Russia. They instead mobilized troops and equipment around Ukraine’s western flank — as Ukraine pleaded for defense assistance and help protecting its airspace.
After a phone conversation with Zelenskyy, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau imposed more severe sanctions on Russia.
The new sanctions will target 58 people and entities connected to Russia, including members of that country’s elite and their families, the paramilitary organization known as the Wagner Group and major Russian banks.
The sanctions, announced Thursday after Trudeau attended a virtual G7 meeting, will also affect members of the Russian Security Council, including key cabinet ministers.
Existing Russian export permits were also cancelled by Canada, and new ones won’t be issued.
Trudeau also says the federal government will be prioritizing immigration applications for Ukrainians who want to come to Canada and is launching a dedicated telephone line for anyone who has any urgent questions about immigrating from Ukraine.
He says Canada has arranged for the safe passage of any Canadian citizens, permanent residents and their families still in Ukraine through land borders with Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania and Moldova.
U.S. President Joe Biden also announced new sanctions against Russia on Thursday.
Condemnation rained down not only from the U.S., Canada, and Europe, but from South Korea, Australia and beyond. Many governments readied new sanctions. Even friendly leaders like Hungary’s Viktor Orban sought to distance themselves from Putin.
The chief of the NATO alliance said the “brutal act of war” shattered peace in Europe, joining a chorus of world leaders who decried the attack, which could cause massive casualties, topple Ukraine’s democratically elected government and upend the post-Cold War security order.
— with files from The Associated Press, The Canadian Press