National Defense Minister Anita Anand used her visit to Ukraine on Wednesday to announce that Canada will send 200 more armored vehicles to help the country against Russian invaders.
While Minister Anand announced this latest contribution, the announcement was overshadowed by questions about whether Canada and its allies would agree to Ukraine’s request for even heavier equipment: tanks.
Mrs. Anand announced the government’s plan to buy 200 armored vehicles for the Ukrainian army at a press conference in the capital Kyiv after meeting with her Ukrainian counterpart, Oleksiy Reznikov.
The machines are purchased from Mississauga, Ontario-based Rochel for $90 million. Canada already sent eight of the same Rochelle Senator armored vehicles to Ukraine last spring.
“APC senators are security tools, and I’ve heard many times that Ukrainian troops appreciate their maneuverability and adaptability,” Ms. Anand, who was with Mr. Reznikov, told reporters.
“Vehicles also enable safe transport of personnel and equipment and medical evacuation. »
The vehicles represent Canada’s next military contribution to Ukraine since Russia launched a full-scale invasion of the country in February, sparking the biggest European conflict since World War II.
Battle tanks are needed
Reznikov thanked Canada for armored vehicles and other contributions, including an American-made surface-to-air missile system announced last week worth about $406 million.
Ukraine’s defense minister said such air defense systems are a top priority for his country as Russian missiles continue to rain down on civilian targets inside the country.
Mr. Reznikov, however, reiterated the need for battle tanks, calling these heavy weapons essential to protect the lives of Ukrainian soldiers and counterattack against Russian forces.
“The main difference between the Armed Forces of Ukraine and the Armed Forces of Russia is that we try to save the lives of our defenders and do not use them as cannon fodder like the Russians,” he said in Ukrainian.
“Therefore, it is very important for us to equip our armed forces with so-called armored fists that will break the positions of the armed forces of the Russian Federation during a counterattack and save the lives of our defenders. »
Important meeting on Friday
Allies discussed whether to send tanks to Ukraine. Among them is Germany, which is facing pressure not only to send some of its Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine, but also to allow other countries that operate the same tanks to do the same.
This includes Canada, which has 112 Leopard 2s. The tanks were purchased from Germany in 2007 at the height of the war in Afghanistan.
Minister Reznikov said Finland and Poland had both indicated their intention to send Leopard 2s to Ukraine, and he believed Berlin would agree when allied defense ministers met Friday in Germany at a US-led meeting on the war.
Minister Anand did not commit to providing the Leopard 2s, saying only that Ottawa would “continue to provide Ukraine with the assistance it needs to fight and win this war.”
But earlier this week, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau did not rule out sending Leopard 2s to Ukraine if Germany were to agree to such a move, saying: “We will consider all requests from Ukraine, but we’re not there for the Leopard 2 yet. . »
The federal government says Canada has provided nearly $5 billion in military, financial and humanitarian aid since Russian forces entered Ukraine on February 24, 2022. In addition, hundreds of Canadian soldiers are training members of the Ukrainian forces in the UK and Poland.
Anita Anand’s visit to Ukraine came as local officials announced that the country’s interior minister had died in a helicopter crash near the capital that killed at least 14 people, including other leaders and three children.