Canada sending defensive weapons to Ukraine, extends military training mission

OTTAWA – Canada will provide “non-lethal” defensive military gear, intelligence and cyber-defensive support as it expands and extends its military training mission in Ukraine for three more years, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Wednesday, as part of an international effort to avert a war breaking out in eastern Europe.

Trudeau unveiled the new measures as NATO allies attempted to deter Russia’s President Vladimir Putin by warning of the steep cost to Russia of any further incursion into Ukraine.

He said cabinet has approved the deployment of 60 more military personnel on top of the 200 soldiers now involved in Canada’s training mission in Ukraine, known as Operation Unifier, with the possibility of increasing the total to 400. “This is a $ 340-million commitment , ”Said Trudeau.

Canada will aid Ukraine with intelligence sharing and support to repel cyber attacks “so that Ukraine can defend its sovereignty, security and territorial integrity,” he said.

Canada will also send another $ 50 million for development and humanitarian aid on top of a $ 120-million loan Ottawa announced last week.

“We continue to call on Russia to de-escalate and engage in meaningful dialogue until a diplomatic solution is reached,” Trudeau said after wrapping up a three-day cabinet retreat where the government calibrated its response to the massive buildup of Russian troops on Ukraine’s border.

Defense Minister Anita Anand will travel to Ukraine in the coming days, he said, and Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland portrayed the mission as vital to Canada’s interests in maintaining an international rules-based order. “The world’s dictators are watching,” said Freeland.

Canada’s announcement came hours after the US sent a written reply to Russia rejecting its key demands that NATO bar Ukraine from future membership and draw down its weapons and military presence in nearby countries.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said NATO has and will keep its “open-door” policy toward Ukraine,

“We make clear that there are core principles that we are committed to uphold and defend – including Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and the right of states to choose their own security arrangements and alliances,” he said.

Blinken insisted the document invites Russia to keep talking to resolve the rising tensions after Russia deployed more than 100,000 troops on the Ukrainian border.

NATO will also send its own document to Russia, Blinken said, but there is “no daylight among the United States and our allies and partners on these matters.”

The US and NATO are willing to discuss “transparency” measures around military exercises and activity, and new arms control agreements, that would enhance “collective security,” he said.

“All told, it sets out a serious diplomatic path forward, should Russia choose it,” he said.

“The ball is in their court.”

US President Joe Biden made clear a day earlier that while 8,500 American troops stand ready to reinforce NATO’s presence in member countries, “there is not going to be any American forces moving into Ukraine.”

However, he warned of “enormous consequences” if Putin “were to go in and invade, as he could, the entire country – or a lot less than that, as well – for Russia, not only in terms of economic consequences and political consequences. , but there’ll be enormous consequences worldwide. This would be the largest – if he were to move in with all those forces, it’d be the largest invasion since World War Two. It would change the world. ”

The US has delivered defensive weaponry to Kyiv this week that Blinken said is “essential to Ukraine’s front-line defenders.”

If Russia invades, the US has repeatedly warned it faces “massive” and “severe” sanctions and export controls on US-origin products that would be crucial to the future of the Russian economy in sectors like aerospace and defense, lasers and sensors, maritime , artificial intelligence, robotics, and quantum computing, administration officials said.

The US has also identified ways to increase global shipments of natural gas to Europe if Russia tries to choke off oil and gas exports to NATO countries.

Canada’s tougher measures come after Ottawa ordered family members of Canadian embassy personnel in that country to leave and warned against non-essential travel to Ukraine. The United States has warned American citizens to leave the country if they can.

Last month, Trudeau instructed Anand to solidify Canada’s military contributions to NATO operations in eastern Europe and to “extend” Canada’s support to Ukraine through the military training mission known as Operation Unifier, which was due to end in March.

Currently, the roughly 200 Canadian Armed Forces troops involved in that operation are deployed from the 2nd Canadian division based out of Valcartier, Quebec.

The next rotation would see troops based out of Edmonton deployed in fall 2022.

Their mission is to train Ukraine’s military, and not to take part in active combat operations.

Ukraine has asked for more Canadian soldiers to expand the Kyiv-based operation beyond 13 locations where they currently work.


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