“Twenty-three years ago today, on August 24th, 1991, the Ukrainian Parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, declared the country’s independence from the Soviet Union. On December 1st, 1991, Ukraine held a referendum that saw over 90 per cent of voters supporting the decision for independence. The very next day, Canada became the first Western country to recognize Ukraine’s independence as a sovereign state.
“Canada has remained steadfast in its support for the people of Ukraine, providing assistance to promote development, trade and good governance. Our close relations are significantly enhanced by the over 1.2 million Canadians of Ukrainian descent as their contributions to our collective success are immeasurable.
“Since triumphing over the oppression of communism to achieve independence, Ukraine has taken great strides to establish itself as a free, democratic and sovereign country.
“In recent months, the Putin regime’s expansionist agenda has greatly endangered the people of Ukraine. President Putin’s threat to their territorial sovereignty constitutes not only a real menace to Ukraine, it also further demonstrates the Russian Federation’s willingness to destabilize Eastern Europe and undermine the sovereignty of its neighbours. The people of Ukraine have held firm against this tyranny, showing their characteristic courage and resolve.
“Canada has been standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the Ukrainian people. Since the onset of the crisis, we have imposed, along with our allies, a broad range of political and economic sanctions against those responsible for the crisis, pledging support to help Ukraine stabilize its economy and promote economic and social development, and providing non-lethal security assistance and training for members of the Ukrainian military.
“On this special anniversary, Canada calls on Russia’s leader to cease all provocative military activity.
“Canada will continue to stand by Ukraine in this time of need and remains committed to helping its people and government build a democratic, independent and prosperous country. We stand prepared to continue to apply further political and economic pressure, along with our allies, if President Putin’s military aggression and provocative actions continue.
“On behalf of all Canadians, I extend my very best wishes to everyone celebrating Ukraine’s 23rd anniversary of independence.”