Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy delivered an impassioned plea for more support and the closure of his country's airspace during a virtual address to Canadian members of Parliament and senators in the House of Commons on Tuesday.
Zelenskyy says 97 children have been killed since Russia launched its invasion of his country. He asked Canadians to imagine the terror and horror of homes burning and cities being bombed and destroyed.
"Can you only imagine? Imagine that at 4 a.m., each of you, you start hearing bomb explosions, severe explosions. Justin, can you imagine hearing — you, your children — hearing all these severe explosions? Bombing (the) airport, bombing the Ottawa airport?" Zelenskyy asked the MPs and Senators.
"Can you imagine when you call your friends, your friendly nations, and you ask, 'Please close the sky, please close the airspace. Please stop the bombing. How many more cruise missiles have to fall on our cities before you make this happen?' And they, in return, express their deep concerns about the situation … and they say, 'Please hold on a little longer.'"
Zelenskyy says that while he recognizes the sanctions Canada has imposed on Russia are severe, they are not enough. "You have imposed severe sanctions, serious sanctions. At the same time, we see that unfortunately, it did not bring an end to the war."
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau addressed Zelenskyy on a first-name basis, saying "Volodymyr, in the years I’ve known you, I’ve always thought of you as a champion of democracy. And now, democracies around the world are lucky to have you as their champion."
Trudeau stopped short of making any promises of more intervention from Canada on Ukraine's behalf but made clear that Canada stands with them. "In Canada, we like to root for the underdog. We believe that when a cause is just and right, it will always prevail, no matter the size of the opponent."
The Prime Minister and leaders of Canada's other parties made clear that they felt Russia's invasion was illegal and unjustified.
Interim Conservative leader Candice Bergen said, "This war of naked aggression has revealed Vladimir Putin for what he really is: a warmonger and a violent predator with no regard for human suffering."
Zelenskyy says he is grateful to the Canadian government for what it has done so far, but that Ukraine desperately needs a no-fly zone to stop Russian planes and missiles. "Our cities are not protected just like your cities are protected — Edmonton, Vancouver. You can see that Kyiv is being shelled, being bombed … It used to be we were a very peaceful country, peaceful cities. Now they’re being constantly bombarded."
Bergen says she feels that other countries should be doing more "to secure Ukraine’s airspace. We need to protect, at a minimum, the airspace over humanitarian corridors so that Ukrainians can seek safe passage away from the war zones and to allow humanitarian relief to reach those areas under siege.”
Ukraine's allies have been hesitant to close the airspace over Ukraine because it would require the downing of Russian jets that broke the airspace. Many fear that such actions would spark an all-out war in Europe.
"You all need to do more to stop Russia, to protect Ukraine, and by doing that, to protect Europe from (the) Russian threat," Zelenskyy said.