Dear ladies and gentlemen, thank you for inviting me and the chargé d'affaires as witnesses today to the committee meeting. A heartfelt thank you for Canada's cross-party and nationwide full support of Ukraine. We can feel the sincere support here in Canada.
We are grateful for Canada's military aid, financial and humanitarian support, sanctions and pressure on Russia and efforts to isolate it globally, and for Canada's hosting of displaced Ukrainians in Canada. We are grateful for Canada's permanent support of Ukraine in international organizations. The financial support of Canada to Ukraine within the last three months is unprecedented. The latest supply of heavy weapons and armed vehicles is vital for the defence of our territory and our sovereignty. Very recently, in openly calling things by their names, Canada's Parliament recognized Russian crimes in Ukraine as genocide against Ukrainian people. History books will commend Canada for its strong stance with Ukraine against Russia's barbaric war. Ukrainians will never forget that Canada was shoulder to shoulder with us in these dramatic times in our modern history.
Let me briefly inform you of the developments in Ukraine on the ground. We've already gone through two months of full-scale war in Ukraine. Russia is continuing its unprovoked war, but Ukrainians are bravely withstanding due to our courage, wise military tactics and the weapons provided by our allies. As President Zelenskyy mentioned, courage is now our Ukrainian brand, and we are spreading this brand worldwide.
Russia regrouped its major forces to the eastern part of Ukraine. Now it aims to occupy the entire territory of the Donetsk and Luhansk region and to try to secure the land corridor to Crimea and across Mariupol. In the meantime, it continues to launch missile strikes on military and civilian infrastructure throughout all of the country. The territory of Belarus has been actively used by Russians for its military purposes. A lot of missile attacks in support of the Russian army are coming from that territory.
Several cities and towns are temporarily occupied, like Kherson, Berdyansk and Melitopol. Some are continuously attacked or besieged: Kharkiv, Mykolaiv, and the huge disaster in Mariupol. In the temporarily occupied cities and towns, Ukrainians are actively protesting against Russian invaders despite significant threats to their lives. A number of mayors, members of local parliaments and civil activists have been abducted. Some of them were tortured and even murdered.
It's estimated that around a half-million Ukrainians were forcibly deported to Russia. Agreed humanitarian corridors are regularly violated by Russian troops. Just half of them have been successfully done.
Yesterday, evacuation of Mariupol finally started. More than 100 civilians were evacuated from Azovstal. It is a big Mariupol steel mill controlled by Russian forces. It was a shelter to civilians in Mariupol. Just imagine, Mariupol was a city with a population of 400,000, and 95% of the city has been totally destroyed.
Thirteen million Ukrainians fled their homes. Around 5.4 million of them left the country to find a safer place.
Russian soldiers have proved themselves to be shameless looters. Occupiers are now stealing millions of dollars' worth of grain in storage from the Kherson region and are trying to transport it to occupied Crimea. That is a shocking reminder for all of us of Stalin's practice of the 1930s.
Extensive environmental damage is also present as water supplies, sewage systems and communications are also being targeted. According to the latest from Unicef, this situation has already led to 1.4 million people having no access to clean water and another 4.6 million people having only limited access to water. This is in the middle of Europe in the 21st century.
In addition to the crime of aggression, Russia is progressively extending the list of its war crimes under numerous international conventions.
To name but a few, there are deliberate attacks against civilian objects; wilful killing of civilians; using prohibited weapons; sexual violence, including to children; torture; forceable deportation. Russian troops have stolen the occupied Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant. This is the biggest nuclear power plant in Europe. Russian cruise missiles have been recorded flying at low altitude over the Zaporizhzhya and two other nuclear power plants. Russia is permanently neglecting international law and rules-based order.
On Friday, Russian missiles hit residential buildings in Kyiv, Ukraine's capital, just two kilometres from the location where UN Secretary-General António Guterres, while visiting Kyiv, Bucha and Irpin, had the meeting with President Zelenskyy. Thus, the UN Security Council permanent member explicitly demonstrated to the UN Secretary-General its attitude to UN international law and the rules-based order.
I would like to underscore that it's not a one-man show. The entire Russian society, not only Putin and his proxies, should bear responsibility for Russia's war against Ukraine. Just imagine, 74% of Russians support this war.
The Ukrainian economy, due to the full scale of the Russian invasion, will shrink this year at least 35%, according to IMF. The active war could increase this up to 50%. The monthly budget deficit is $5 billion, not including military expenditures. In such a challenging time, Ukraine continues to serve its sovereign debt on time and in full. The national banking system is fully operational.
Being a global leader of food supply, Ukraine expects that over 70% of our agriculture land will be planted. The mining of the fields, affected by the war, is an urgent issue. The logistics of the previous year's harvest and next year's harvest remain the biggest challenge, as the major export routes, which are the seaports of the Black Sea, are being blocked by Russia. Four and a half million tonnes of harvest from the previous season are now blocked in Ukraine seaports. That could lead to further food price increases globally.
Let me reiterate that in this hard and tragic situation in Ukraine, we are very grateful for Canada's comprehensive and indeed robust backing. We highly appreciate that the draft budget for 2022-23 envisions significant support for Ukrainian military, financial and humanitarian needs. However, I would like for all of us to have a common understanding: Financial and military aid must increasingly and urgently flow to Ukraine as the war unfolds.
In terms of the military support, we appreciate the support of the Canadian government with the supply of heavy weapons. You can see it makes a difference on the ground. But we need also to keep in mind that the war is going on, and the further prompt supply of needed weapons is essential. Each day, Russians are trying to penetrate and break our defence, but we hold the line. Hence, it's time for brave and quick decisions, synchronized with our allies in terms of timing for delivery of needed weapons.
We are here and in close contact and permanent contact with the government agencies. First of all, it was GAC and DND on the critically needed supply list.
The estimated damages to the Ukrainian economy are now counted in hundreds of billions of dollars. Hence, we need a recovery strategy that is similar to the Marshall plan after World War II. With Russia's property and assets frozen, sites abroad have to become a major part of these rebuilding plans. In this regard, we welcome the government's initiatives to establish a mechanism of seizure and fortitude of Russia's frozen assets in Canada being further transferred to Ukraine.
We appreciate the Canadian government's efforts to work with us on the future rebuilding of Ukraine.
The increase in trade relations, including further expansion of our free trade agreement, CUFTA, on services and cancellation of all tariff and non-tariff barriers for Ukrainian export, like we have with the decision with the U.K. and the ongoing decision to be made by the European Union, is envisioned to be an additional instrument to support the Ukrainian economy.
On the sanctions, you can imagine that with two months of the war and significant losses to the Ukrainian economy, Russia received 62 billion euros for its oil and gas supply mainly to Europe. Therefore, the full ban of oil and gas supply from Russia is essential to not allow Russia to finance this bloody war. We do believe that Canada can help the EU to support its energy security both in facilitating the transition to renewable sources of energy and in an urgent shortage of hydrocarbon supply.
We also ask Canada to strictly enforce and monitor the implementation of the sanctions and to work with their allies to eliminate existing loopholes that can provide the chance for Russia and Russian oligarchs to evade the sanctions.
We do hope that Canada will follow the other partners and substantially decrease Russian diplomatic presence in Canada.
We rely also on Canadian leadership, and we're grateful for that, in isolating Russia worldwide from a lot of international organizations, including the G20 and ICAO, and putting Russia on a fat blacklist. That is also an important diplomatic tool and we appreciate Canada's leadership role in that.
On humanitarian support, we are also working closely with the Government of Canada. We appreciate the funding that was committed and partly disbursed to humanitarian support. It would be very helpful to establish quick and flexible tools for disbursement of the funding for humanitarian needs. The needs in humanitarian support are quite broad, starting with essential food and medicine, to temporary housing units, bombs used for mining, movable bridges, and so on.
We also call that all the funding or goods supplied should go directly to Ukraine, because there are still the cities, especially those that have been encircled by Russian forces and that have been recently liberated where people still feel the shortage of food. That is one of the crucial points.
In the first days of the Russian invasion, we also witnessed that the well-developed international humanitarian channels were not quick enough to respond to a crisis of such big scale and magnitude.
We look forward to and also appreciate the work that Canada is doing in supporting Ukraine and supporting Ukrainian law enforcement agencies to bring Russian war crimes to justice.
The Russians a few days ago killed a young mother, taped her living child to her body and attached a mine between them. While unwinding, the mine detonated.
To have a feeling for and sense of the ongoing situation on the ground, we also invite you to visit Ukraine and show solidarity with the Ukrainian government and Ukrainian people in the darkest times of our modern history.
Thank you, ladies and gentlemen. Glory to Ukraine.