The status of the Canadian agreement to buy artillery shells for Ukraine is uncertain

Talks are underway to make a purchase from South Korea, but Defense Minister Anita Anand declined to say whether it would go ahead.

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Canada is in talks with arms companies to get more equipment for Ukraine, but it is unclear whether a critical deal to buy 100,000 rounds of artillery ammunition for Ukraine will proceed.

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Canadian officials have been talking to their South Korean counterparts about acquiring the 155-millimeter artillery ammunition, this newspaper reported in late May. Canada would then provide those 100,000 rounds of ammunition to Ukraine, which has been warning for the past month that it is running out of artillery shells.

The Liberal government has already provided Ukraine with Canadian Forces M777 artillery guns that can use 155mm ammunition.

Defense Minister Anita Anand said Thursday that Canada is talking to a number of defense companies about equipment for Ukraine. That nation is fighting a Russian invasion that began on February 24.

But Anand declined to say whether the Canadian government would actually proceed with the South Korea deal, which could cost Canadian taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars. “It would be unwise of me to announce any transaction before it is finalized,” he noted. “Is not my style”.

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Ukrainian government officials say a continuous supply of artillery shells is critical to their war effort. “This is an artillery war now,” Vadym Skibitsky, deputy director of Ukraine’s military intelligence, told The Guardian newspaper on June 10. “And we are losing in terms of artillery.”

Russia has large reserves of artillery and ammunition for those weapons. Ukraine fires 5,000 to 6,000 artillery shells a day at Russian positions, its military officials say.

But Ukrainian officials and defense analysts estimate that Russia is firing some 20,000 artillery rounds a day. Some Ukrainian government officials claim the figure is as high as 60,000 rounds, but those numbers cannot be confirmed.

Canadian taxpayers have already funded the donation of $626 million worth of weapons and other military equipment to Ukraine. That has included anti-tank systems, .50-caliber sniper rifles equipped with silencers, 60-millimeter mortars, grenade launchers, pistols, C6 and C9 machine guns, thermal imaging binoculars, cameras, scopes and medical supplies.

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In addition, drone cameras have also been sent.

Canada also financed the purchase of 20,000 artillery shells from the United States to donate to the Ukrainian military. That deal cost $98 million.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced on June 30 that Canada will also provide Ukraine with 39 light armored vehicles. Those vehicles, built by General Dynamics Land Systems-Canada, were originally for the Canadian Army. But instead, they will be diverted to the Ukraine.

Those vehicles are expected to arrive in Europe in the coming weeks.

Anand also announced Thursday that the Canadian military will resume training Ukrainian soldiers. Up to 225 troops, most of Princess Patricia’s 3rd Canadian Light Infantry Battalion based in Edmonton, Alberta, will be sent to the UK to train Ukrainian military recruits there. The deployment will initially be for about four months, according to Canadian defense officials. Training is expected to start on August 25 at a location in the south-east of England.

Anand could not say how many Ukrainian soldiers are expected to be trained.

Canada had previously trained more than 33,000 Ukrainian military personnel in a program that launched in 2015. That training was suspended in February, just before the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

NATO nations have been sending large quantities of weapons to Ukraine since the February 24 invasion. Some NATO officials see the war as an opportunity to force regime change in Russia or to weaken that country militarily.

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