Prime Minister Justin Trudeau greets European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen during a welcoming ceremony at CFB Kingston in Kingston, Ont., Tuesday, March 7, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Trudeau announces supports for Ukraine, hydrogen deal with Europe as EU head visits

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced more support for Ukraine and a new hydrogen agreement with Europe on Tuesday alongside European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

Canada will extend the Operation Unifier mission to provide engineering training in Ukraine until at least October, and Canadian medical trainers will be sent to help Ukrainian forces with combat medical skills.

“Canada is doing much more than its fair share already compared to others and is going way beyond what is necessary. So I want to thank Canada for that,” von der Leyen said at a joint press conference with Trudeau in Kingston, Ont.

She added that the military training operation that Canada initiated in Ukraine in 2015 had an effect on the early successes of “much better trained” Ukrainian troops after the Russian invasion began in February 2022.

Trudeau announced that Ottawa will spend $3 million to support the clearing of landmines and unexploded ordnance in Ukraine, on top of $32 million that was already committed toward mine action. The EU is putting 43 million euros toward the same effort.

The EU has now designated Canada as a partner country on economic sanctions against Russia, and the two are working together to deliver Canadian energy transformers to support the Ukrainian electrical grid.

“For as long as it takes, we will stand shoulder to shoulder with our European partners for Ukraine,” Trudeau said.

He also announced that Ottawa has signed a new hydrogen agreement with the European Union.

“The enhanced action plan on hydrogen will mobilize investment, support businesses, share expertise and get clean Canadian hydrogen to Europe,” said Trudeau. “Fundamentally, it’s about good middle-class jobs, economic growth and clean energy.”

As part of broader talks on climate change and clean energy, von der Leyen said Canada and the EU have been making progress on a critical minerals agreement signed in 2021. She described the minerals as “the lifeblood of the clean economy.”

They are also looking at a joint “green alliance,” she said, that would focus on boosting energy and climate co-operation across the board.

The two were at CFB Kingston Tuesday morning to meet with Canadian Armed Forces personnel who have deployed to Poland to help Ukrainian refugees.

They were also expected to hold an event Tuesday regarding collaboration on critical minerals in the net-zero economy during a visit to a clean technology company.

In the evening, von der Leyen is scheduled to address the House of Commons in Ottawa about Canada’s ties with Europe and mark International Women’s Day, which is Wednesday.

She is also scheduled to meet Wednesday morning with Gov. Gen. Mary Simon.

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