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Trudeau cabinet will weigh further support for Ukraine during three-day retreat.

Click to play video: '‘We stand with Ukrainian people:’ Trudeau says Canada will provide support to Ukraine amid ongoing crisis with Russia'

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Friday that Canada “stands with Ukrainian people” and will “always be there with the necessary supports,” after announcing a loan of up to $120 million (CAD) to the Ukrainian government amid ongoing tensions with neighbouring Russia.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says how Canada will respond to continued Russian threats against Ukraine will be on the agenda for a three-day virtual cabinet retreat set to get underway Monday.

The federal cabinet is meeting as tensions remain high over a potential Russian incursion into Ukraine. NATO officials announced earlier in the day that additional forces from the military alliance are being put on standby to deploy into eastern Europe as part of a bid to deter Russia.

“We’re going to continue to be there, to respond in ways that we can, to support Ukraine,” said Trudeau.

“This is something that matters deeply to us and I can tell you that we will be looking at the situation in Ukraine as part of our cabinet discussions over the next three days.”

He did not say whether Canadian officials are currently considering an order to evacuate families of diplomats stationed at the embassy in Kyiv — as the U.S. began doing over the weekend.

Trudeau has been facing questions about whether the government will offer additional support to Ukraine to help it prepare for the possibility of a Russian invasion.

Last week, the government committed a $120 million loan to Ukraine.

But the decision by other allied countries to begin sending weapons into Ukraine has sparked questions about why Canada is not doing the same. The United States is sending $200 million worth of weapons to Ukraine, while the American government has also approved requests from defence officials in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania to ship U.S.-made weapons in their stockpiles to Ukraine.

Trudeau was asked on Monday whether Canada will send weapons. He did not directly answer the question.

“We will continue to work closely with the government of Ukraine to ensure they get the support they need,” said Trudeau . “And I’m sure there will be more announcements to come.”

His comments follow Defence Minister Anita Anand saying she did not rule out the possibility of shipping weapons to Ukraine, during an interview on Friday with The West Block ‘s Mercedes Stephenson.

Anand said the government is looking to add “further support” amid the continued Russian aggression.

She indicated that more detail on those plans is not long in coming.

“I can say that I’m working with my cabinet colleagues on ways to further support Ukraine, and I will have more to say on those options very shortly,” Anand told Stephenson.

While Russian aggression directed toward eastern European nations is not new, the current tensions come against the background of a renewed bid by Ukraine to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

Russian officials have demanded a guarantee that NATO will not allow Ukraine to join the military alliance, whose backbone is collective, mutual defence.

In short: an attack against one member is an attack against all.

READ MORE: Russia is facing ‘severe’ sanctions for Ukraine threats. Here’s what that could mean

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg cited that principle on Monday in emphasizing the military alliance’s commitment to beefing up its deterrence and defence activities.

He said NATO will “take all necessary measures to protect and defend all allies,” adding, “We will always respond to any deterioration of our security environment, including through strengthening our collective defence.”

The federal cabinet retreat is scheduled to run until Wednesday.

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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