The consequences of Canada and its allies not supporting Ukraine in its defense against Russian forces “could be devastating” to the entire world, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says.

His comments on Thursday come as dozens of communities across Canada plan to hold vigils on Friday to mark one year since Moscow began its full-scale invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022.

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In the year since Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered his troops into the neighboring country, the world has seen Western nations rally around Ukraine with economic and military aid, resulting not only in the defense of the capital, but also in a significant counter-offensive that led to that Ukrainian troops regain territory.

“The people of Ukraine are not only fighting for the protection of their own territory, their language or the identity of their sovereignty, they are fighting to uphold the rules that underpin all our democracies: territorial integrity, respect for sovereignty, respect for international law and the UN charter,” Trudeau told reporters in Halifax.

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“Russia chose to destabilize it and question all of that, and it’s not just a matter of Russia’s behavior toward Ukraine or some countries around Russia, it’s a matter of other countries around the world wondering, ‘Oh, maybe doing the right thing, now. Maybe because we have a bigger army than our neighbor we can invade, we can attack.’

“The consequences of Canadians not standing with Ukraine, of the world not standing with Ukraine right now, could be devastating … for the entire planet. That’s why Canada and our allies will continue to stand with the people of Ukraine for as long as it takes. “

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Since Russia’s invasion, the federal government said it has committed more than $5 billion in multifaceted support to Ukraine, including more than $2.6 billion in aid, more than $1.2 billion in military aid, $320 million in humanitarian aid, $96 million in development aid and more than $68. millions in security and stabilization programming.

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Before the anniversary, The G7’s foreign ministers said that on Tuesday that their countries would continue to impose economic costs on Russia, and called on the wider international community to reject what they described as Moscow’s “brutal expansionism.”

“We will impose additional financial costs on Russia, and on individuals and entities — inside and outside Russia — that provide political or financial support for these violations of international law,” the leaders said in a joint statement.

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Joe Biden also said Tuesday that the United States and its partners will announce more sanctions against Russia’s president, the US president said in a speech in Poland after a surprise visit to Ukraine.

Jubilee Vigils Will Not Have ‘Celebratory Mood’: UCC

Several memorials will be held across the country on Friday to mark one year since the invasion.

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Ihor Michalchyshyn, executive director of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress (UCC), told Global News that his organization promotes 43 events organized by volunteers. They occur across Canadaincluding in cities such as Toronto, Ottawa, Edmonton, Calgary, Vancouver, Winnipeg and Fredericton.

At least 43 commemorations will be held on Friday as the world marks one year since Russian forces invaded Ukraine on February 24, 2022, says the executive director of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress.

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The UCC put out a call to action for as many communities as possible across Canada to organize public events on Friday, and the response shows there is “strong national support” for Ukraine’s struggle, Michalchyshyn said.

“We are the largest Ukrainian community outside Ukraine, and it shows the world that the community here is actively engaged,” he said, referring to the diaspora of 1.4 million Ukrainians in Canada.

“Unfortunately, we have to keep reminding ourselves and through the media that the war is not over, that Putin is doubling down and the pressure on Ukraine will increase.”

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Michalchyshyn added that it has been “relentless 365 days of attacks on Ukraine,” and the country will continue to need support from Canada and its allies for the foreseeable future.

“It’s not a celebratory mood,” he said of the one-year anniversary.

“We mark the resilience of Ukraine, but we note the strength of the people even in these tragic circumstances.”

— with files from Reuters

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