Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Thursday he's not happy that Ukraine is being excluded from the upcoming G20 summit in India — even as Russian President Vladimir Putin remains on the invitation list.
"I'm disappointed that you won't be included," Trudeau told Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy during a phone conversation to mark the Eastern European country's independence day. A clip from the conversation was posted to Zelenskyy's Instagram feed.
Trudeau will be attending the meeting of the world's major economies in New Delhi from Sept. 9-10. According to the audio clip, he assured Zelenskyy that his country's voice will be heard.
"As you know, we will be speaking up strongly for you, and we will continue to make sure that the world is standing with Ukraine," Trudeau said.
Russia is a permanent member of the G20. India's foreign minister, Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, confirmed months of speculation recently when he said that Ukraine was not invited as an observer nation.
India, which has close trade and military relations with Moscow, did invite nine other observer countries: Spain, Bangladesh, Nigeria, Mauritius, Egypt, the Netherlands, Oman, Singapore and the United Arab Emirates.
Last spring, Ukraine was invited by Japan to join G7 leaders for their discussions in Hiroshima, where the embattled country received assurances of continued economic and military support.
Zelenskyy attended the meeting in person and later went to the NATO summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, where the leaders of the world's seven leading democratic economies pledged to negotiate long-term security assurances for Ukraine.
Jaishankar defended Ukraine's exclusion from the G20 list by pointing out that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has met on several occasions with Zelenskyy — including at the G7, where India was an invited guest.
In this photo provided by the Ukrainian Presidential Press Office, Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, right, and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi meet at the Grand Prince Hotel during the G7 Summit in Hiroshima, Japan on May 20, 2023. (Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP)
Jaishankar told Indian media on Aug.16 that his government chose not to invite Ukraine because the G20 is an economic forum, not a place for conflict resolution.
India's G20 Sherpa, Amitabh Kant, was even more blunt last month at a meeting of the personal representatives of the G20 heads of government, who are preparing for the summit.
Kant told journalists the Ukraine war was not on India's list of priorities for its G20 presidency and his government is instead focused on economic and development issues.
While the door is closed to Kyiv, it remains open for Moscow. As late as last week, the Kremlin was refusing to rule out Putin attending the G20 in person.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan interact before a group picture at the BRICS summit meeting in Johannesburg, South Africa on July 27, 2018. (Gianluigi Guercia/Reuters)
The Russian president avoided going to this week's BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) Summit in Johannesburg. He attended remotely because he faces an international warrant for his arrest for alleged war crimes.
The warrant was issued by the International Criminal Court, an international body of which India is not a member. India did not sign the Rome Statute that established the court and has in the past hosted individuals wanted by the ICC, such as former Sudanese president Omar Hassan al-Bashir.
Canada's federal government used Ukraine's independence day as a promotional hook to announce the long-anticipated appointment of the country's new ambassador in Kyiv.
Natalka Cmoc is Canada's new ambassador to Ukraine. (Global Affairs Canada)
Natalka Cmoc was named to the post to replace Larisa Galadza, whose term has come to an end.
While Trudeau was speaking with Zelenskyy on Thursday, the chair of the House of Commons' foreign affairs committee, Liberal MP Ali Ehsassi, was conducting his own fact-finding mission in Kyiv with a European delegation of parliamentarians.
The group was briefed by various Ukrainian officials, including staff in Zelenskyy's office.
Ehsassi, who has made previous trips to Kyiv, said he was struck by how much more secure the Ukrainian capital is now compared to last year, following the introduction of major western air defences. He said Ukrainian officials told him they need more such equipment to defend themselves as winter approaches.
"They know full well that the Russians are targeting their energy infrastructure," Ehsassi told CBC News from Kyiv on Thursday.
"So they'd be very, very grateful for more air defence systems to protect their energy infrastructure."