Canada's PM Trudeau meets Ukraine's President Zelenskyy on surprise trip to Kyiv-PHOTO

# 10 June 2023 15:22 (UTC +04:00)

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is on a surprise visit to Kyiv as the Ukrainian military stepped up its long-anticipated counteroffensive to drive the Russian army out of occupied eastern and southern regions of the battered country, APA reports citing National Post.

Trudeau, accompanied by Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland, arrived in the capital on Saturday as President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's government struggles to assess the damage and mount further downstream evacuations following the destruction of the giant Nova Kakhovka dam.

Both Kyiv and Moscow blame each other for the collapse, which U.S. intelligence agencies and a Norwegian research foundation — citing seismic data — said on Friday was caused by some kind of explosion.

Trudeau's trip to Ukraine was planned under a strict news blackout. He'll also meet with Zelenskyy during his time there.

The visit has taken Trudeau away from Ottawa as the political crisis over alleged Chinese foreign interference in the last two federal elections took a dramatic turn with the abrupt resignation of special rapporteur and former governor general David Johnston.

It also came after a week of intense efforts to squelch raging wildfires in Quebec and elsewhere that have reduced air quality for tens of millions of people in Canada and the U.S.

In Kyiv, Trudeau started his visit by attending a sombre wreath-laying at the Wall of Remembrance, a unique, deeply personal collection of photos and inscriptions marking those who've fallen in the Russian-Ukrainian war.

Moments before Trudeau arrived for the ceremony, a military funeral procession passed by. A coffin and mourners dressed head to toe in black marched into St. Michael's Golden-Domed Monastery in central Kyiv to the mournful sound of bugles.

It was a stark reminder that this is a country at war.