The Canadian government has confirmed that shipments of ‘lethal’ military aid will be shipped to Ukraine as the crisis with Russia continues. The military aid will take the form of small arms and ammunition and will follow earlier non-lethal equipment which has already been sent by Canada.
Earlier shipments, which began in 2015, in the aftermath of the Russian annexation of Crimea, have included communications gear, a mobile field hospital, explosive disposal equipment, and body armor. Canada has also provided technical and training assistance over the last 7 years, deploying the 3rd largest advisory unit to Ukraine alongside the US, UK and others. The approximately 200- strong training team, known as Operation UNIFIER, has “conducted more than 700 courses, training more than 33,000 Ukrainian military and security personnel in battlefield tactics, maneuver, and other advanced military skills” according to the Canadian government.
The announcement comes as Canada, along with the US and UK, confirmed that their training and advisory operation in Ukraine would temporarily be withdrawn as the crisis with Russia continues to escalate.
A 14 February press release from the Canadian Ministry of National Defence confirmed that:
“Canada will donate over [CA]$7 million of lethal weapons and assorted support items to the Armed Forces of Ukraine. This equipment includes machine guns, pistols, carbines, 1.5 million rounds of ammunition, sniper rifles, and various related equipment.”
Canada has so far contributed CA$23 million of aid since 2015. It remains unclear what form the arms and ammunition mentioned will take, whether it will be of a pattern and type similar to that used by the Canadian Armed Forces has not been stated. They may be weapons of the type currently in service with the Ukrainian Army – principally those of the former Com-bloc such as AKs and PKMs. The Ministry of National Defence have not responded to a request for comment on this at the time of publication.
Anita Anand, Canada’s Minister of National Defence, said:
Canada is deeply concerned by Russia’s military build-up in and around Ukraine, which presents a significant threat to the rules-based international order. Following conversations with our Ukrainian partners, including during my recent trip to Ukraine, Canada has authorized the provision of defensive weapons to assist Ukraine in defending its sovereignty and territorial integrity.
Canada’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Melanie Joly, also stated that the country “remains resolute in supporting Ukraine’s sovereignty, territorial integrity, and independence.” Adding that “Canada will continue to work closely with the Ukrainian government and allies in the region to protect Ukraine’s security and economic resilience.”
The Canadian announcement follows other international commitments from the US (who has sent shipments including small arms, ammunition, Stinger MANPADS and Javelin anti-tank guided missiles), the UK which dispatched its Next Generation Light Anti-tank Weapon, Poland (whom has promised anti-tank and close range anti-air weapons) and the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania who have sent Stingers and Javelins.
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