Trudeau condemns Russian missile attack on Kyiv hospital ahead of NATO summit

  • Canadian Press

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is expected to arrive in Washington, D.C., today to mark the 75th anniversary of the NATO military alliance. Trudeau tours a fully electric bus at a York Region Transit facility,  in Richmond Hill, Ont., Friday, July 5, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Christopher Katsarov

WASHINGTON, D. C. -- A major Russian missile attack struck a large children's hospital in Kyiv Monday just as the ongoing war in Ukraine is set to be the major topic of conversation at the NATO leaders' summit this week in Washington, D.C.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau immediately condemned the attack as he arrived in the U.S. capital Monday morning.

"This is abhorrent," he said in a statement.

"Striking a children's hospital -- and the innocent children inside -- cannot be justified."

The missile that struck Okhmatdyt children's hospital was part of a daytime barrage targeting five Ukrainian cities. Officials said at least 31 people were killed and 154 injured, including at least seven children at the hospital.

Trudeau said Canada's commitment to Ukraine remains as strong as ever. He is expected to send a message to NATO members during the leaders' summit to bolster support for ongoing military aid for Ukraine.

NATO members have overwhelmingly provided support to Ukraine but have been cautious not to be drawn into a wider conflict with Russia.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Friday he expects heads of state and government will agree to a substantial package for Ukraine that "constitute a bridge to NATO membership."

Some experts say its unlikely to go as far as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy hopes.

Zelenskyy posted on social media following the missile strikes that Ukraine is initiating an emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council. He called for peace-seeking countries to stand "shoulder to shoulder" against Russia. He said it requires sufficient support, determination, joint action and defence.

"This is why we can only force Russia into peace, and we can only achieve this together with everyone in the world who truly seeks peace," Zelenskyy posted.

The precarious position of United States President Joe Biden will also colour the leaders' summit. Biden's recent performance at a presidential debate has raised major questions about his cognitive state, questions he roundly rejects.

The upcoming U.S. election and the possibility of a second Donald Trump administration has some NATO countries concerned that the alliance's staunchest critic will once again control its mightiest military.

Trump has repeatedly claimed he would not defend NATO members that don't meet defence spending targets, which includes Canada.

Defence Minister Bill Blair is expected to speak about Canada's Arctic defence at the Foreign Policy Security Forum in Washington Monday afternoon before joining Trudeau and Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly at the NATO leaders' summit later in the week.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 8, 2024.

-- With files from The Associated Press.