Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly is praising a recent crackdown on corruption by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s government.
Speaking to reporters at the end of a two-day visit to the country, Joly said she repeatedly voiced Canada’s concerns about corruption, including in meetings with Zelenskyy and other top officials.
“I raised the issue,” she said Thursday. “It is important, as Ukrainians are fighting for further freedom to be able to live in a democracy, that the values underpinning democracy are protected.”
Zelenskyy was elected in 2019 on an anti-establishment and anti-corruption platform in a country long gripped by graft.
He has shaken up a number of high-level posts in recent weeks in response to allegations of corruption as Western allies channel billions of dollars into the country to help Ukraine fight Russia.
Several senior Ukrainian officials, including front-line governors, lost their jobs last month and there were reports this week that Ukrainian Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov was on his way out. Three of his deputies were replaced instead.
In addition to speaking to Zelenskyy, Joly said she voiced Canada’s concerns about corruption with the president’s top adviser as well as Ukraine’s prosecutor general and Internal Affairs Minister Ihor Klymenko, who oversees the country’s police forces.
Joly said Canada is “very pleased with the fact that while they are focused on defending their sovereignty and territorial integrity, that they’re able to continue these democratic reforms and do this crackdown on corruption.”
Joly also said Canada is lobbying for other allies to provide more heavy weaponry to Ukraine, particularly as an expected flood of tanks has yet to become reality.
Canada quickly donated four Leopard 2 tanks following an appeal from Ukraine, all of which are now in Europe.
Yet while several European countries as well as the United States and Britain have stepped forward with similar pledges, the numbers have so far fallen short of expectations.
During her visit, Joly announced how $18.2 million earmarked last June for Ukraine will be allocated to local groups.
Joly’s visit also included a trip to the suburb of Brovary, where senior officials were killed in a helicopter crash that has not been attributed to Russia.
Ottawa tried to keep Joly’s visit under wraps for security reasons, but Zelenskyy posted a video Tuesday of his meeting with the Canadian foreign minister.
She also spoke with Ukraine’s first lady Olena Zelenska about support for women experiencing sexual violence and announced $3 million for local groups working to stabilize the country.
Joly visited projects funded by Canada, such as a demining program run through the HALO Trust, and pledged “continued Canadian contributions” for removing mines.
The visit is Joly’s second since Russia’s invasion nearly one year ago; she had also visited Ukraine as foreign affairs minister in January 2022.
MPs on the House foreign affairs committee are to depart shortly for a tour of countries that neighbour Ukraine to compare responses to the invasion.