Ukraine's Zelenskiy asks Canada PM Trudeau for support in path towards NATO membership

FILE PHOTO: Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau looks on during a news conference in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada March 30, 2021. REUTERS/Blair Gable/File Photo

KYIV (Reuters) - Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy asked Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in a phone call on Tuesday to support Kyiv’s aspirations to join the NATO military alliance, the president’s office said.

Zelenskiy earlier urged NATO to lay out a path for Ukraine to join, after days in which Russia has massed troops near the conflict-hit Donbass region.

“As a special partner of Ukraine, Canada could take the lead among allies who support a MAP (Membership Action Plan) solution for Ukraine. Canada’s support will be an important signal of support from true friends,” Zelenskiy said, according to a statement.

Canada is home to a large Ukrainian diaspora.

Trudeau later said he and Zelenskiy had discussed shared concerns about what he described as recent Russian military activity and ongoing aggression.

“I reaffirmed Canada’s unwavering support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territory integrity, as well as our commitment to further deepening our longstanding friendship with Ukraine,” he told a briefing.

Reporting by Natalia Zinets in Kiev and David Ljunggren in Ottawa; writing by Matthias Williams; Editing by Kevin Liffey and Jonathan Oatis