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Trudeau visits Irpin as diplomats, politicians return to Ukraine

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Trudeau visits Irpin as diplomats, politicians return to Ukraine
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau visited Irpin, Ukraine, on Sunday as a slew of diplomats and politicians traveled to the country ahead of Victory in Europe Day. Photo courtesy Oleksandr Markushyn/Facebook

May 8 (UPI) -- Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau visited Ukraine on Sunday as a slew of diplomats and politicians traveled to the country ahead of Victory in Europe Day.

Trudeau announced his visit in a message on Twitter and said that he had traveled with Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland and Foreign Minister Mélanie Joly.

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"We're here to show our support for Ukraine and its people," Trudeau said. "Our message to President [Volodymyr Zelensky] and Ukrainians is this: Canada will always stand shoulder to shoulder with Ukraine."

His visit was confirmed by Oleksandr Markushyn, the mayor of the Kyiv suburb of Irpin. The town suffered destruction as Russian forces attempted to assault the capital before refocusing the war to eastern Ukraine.

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"He came to Irpin to see with his own eyes all the horror that the Russian occupiers had done to our city," Markushyn said.

"And, of course, he was shocked. After all, he saw burned and completely destroyed not military facilities, but the homes of Irpin residents, who until recently enjoyed life and had their own plans for the future."

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Markushyn thanked Trudeau for Canada's support for the country and said he believed the country's would continue to cooperate as Ukrainians work to rebuild their cities.

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Trudeau's visit came as first lady Jill Biden on Sunday also made an unannounced trip to Ukraine where she met with first lady Olena Zelenska, the wife of President Volodymyr Zelensky, at a school near the border with Slovakia.

Kristina Kvien, the acting U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, returned to Kyiv on Sunday with a group of diplomats for the first time since before Russia invaded on Feb. 24.

Zelensky on Sunday met with Bärbel Blas, the president of Germany's parliament, in Kyiv as the countries commemorated the surrender of Nazi Germany on May 8, 1945.

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The visit by Blas was the first by a German official since the countries mended a diplomatic disagreement over a decision by Ukrainian officials last month to uninvite federal president Frank-Walter Steinmeier over his past Russian ties.

Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković also visited Ukraine on Sunday and met with Zelensky, who thanked him for his support of Ukraine.

"Croatia is a principled member of our anti-war coalition," Zelensky said. "Together we defend the right not only of our citizens, not only of the citizens of Ukraine, but also of every European nation to an independent and democratic life."

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Zelensky said he discussed with Plenković a sixth sanctions package from the European Union and membership in the international organization.

Masud Gharahkhani, the president of Norway's unicameral legislature, also met with Zelensky on Sunday and said he was "deeply shocked" by the Russian occupation in Irpin and Bucha in the Kyiv region.

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