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OTTAWA: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy on Friday offered a heartfelt thanks to Canada for its help in the war against Russia, saying Ottawa's aid had helped save thousands of lives.

Zelenskiy made his remarks in a speech to the Parliament in Canada, where the Liberal government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has been one of the most vocal supporters of Ukraine's defense against the Russian invasion of February 2022.

Since the beginning of 2022, Canada has committed over C$8 billion ($5.9 billion) in aid to Ukraine, including over C$1.8 billion in military assistance.

"Canadian support for Ukraine with weapons and equipment has allowed us to save thousands of lives," said Zelenskiy, making his first visit to Canada since the start of the war.

Ukraine, Canada leaders discuss ‘long-term defense cooperation’

"Canada's leadership in sanctions against Russia for this war and terror really encouraged others in the world to follow your lead," he said to loud applause.

Although a counteroffensive by Ukrainian forces to reclaim territory occupied by Russian troops has bogged down, Zelenskiy reiterated comments from last month in which he predicted victory.

"So that Russia will never bring back genocide to Ukraine, and will never ever try to do so, Moscow must lose once and for all, and it will lose," he said.

Shortly before Zelenskiy spoke, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Canada would be offering an extra C$650 million in military aid over three years to supply Ukraine with 50 armored vehicles. Ottawa would also send trainers to help Ukrainian pilots on western F-16 fighter jets, he said.

"We will continue to work with our partners including within NATO to provide unwavering support. And we will continue to provide economic support to Ukraine over the next year so that it remains a strong, dynamic and prosperous democratic country," Trudeau said.

There are 1.4 million people of Ukrainian descent in Canada, the third most after Ukraine and Russia. Zelenskiy flew in from Washington where he appealed to U.S. lawmakers on Thursday for continued support amid doubts by some Republicans over whether Congress should approve more aid.

Although there are no such divisions in Canada, it does not have the deep pockets or military reserves of the United States, Germany and other major backers.

Zelenskiy is due to speak at a news conference with Trudeau at 2:45 pm ET (1845 GMT) before flying to Toronto to meet business leaders and then address a rally.

Dozens of extra police were on duty on Friday in central Ottawa, and roads leading to Parliament Hill were blocked off.

The Communications Security Establishment, Canada's signals intelligence agency, warned the cybersecurity community against malicious threats.

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