(OTTAWA) National Defense Minister Anita Anand used a visit to Ukraine on Wednesday to announce that Canada will send another 200 armored personnel carriers to help the country against Russian invaders.
Posted 7:46am Updated 9:50am
Lee Berthiaume The Canadian Press
But although Minister Anand unveiled this latest post, the announcement was largely overshadowed by questions over whether Canada and its allies would agree to Ukraine’s request for even heavier equipment – tanks.
Ms Anand revealed the government’s plan to buy 200 Senator armored personnel carriers for the Ukrainian army at a press conference in the capital Kyiv after meeting her Ukrainian counterpart Oleksii Reznikov.
The Senator tanks were purchased by Roshel, a Mississauga, Ontario company at a cost of $90 million. Canada sent eight of these armored personnel carriers to Ukraine last spring.
“Senators are security vehicles and I’ve heard repeatedly that Ukrainian troops value their agility and adaptability,” Ms Anand, who was flanked by Mr Reznikov in Kyiv, told reporters.
“Vehicles also allow for the safe transportation of personnel and equipment, as well as medical evacuations. »
The vehicles represent another contribution by the Canadian military to Ukraine since Russia launched a full-scale invasion of the country in February that sparked Europe’s biggest conflict since World War II.
“Canada pledged last year to provide Ukraine with comprehensive military assistance totaling well over $1 billion and over $5 billion in combined economic, humanitarian and military assistance,” Minister Anand said on Wednesday.
need battle tanks
Reznikov was quick to thank Canada for the armored vehicles, as well as its other contributions, including a US-made surface-to-air missile system announced last week, each priced at about $406 million.
Ukraine’s defense minister said such air defense systems are his country’s top priority as Russian missiles continue to rain down on civilian targets.
However, Mr Reznikov reiterated the need for main battle tanks, describing these heavy weapons as essential to protecting the lives of Ukrainian soldiers and conducting counter-offensives against Russian forces.
“The main difference between the Ukrainian Armed Forces and the Russian Armed Forces is that we try to save the lives of our defenders and we don’t use them as cannon fodder like the Russians do,” he said in Ukrainian.
“Therefore, it is of crucial importance for us to equip our armed forces with “armored fists”, which will break the positions of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation during the counteroffensive and save the lives of our defenders. »
Important meeting on Friday
The allies discussed whether to send tanks to Ukraine. Among them is Germany, which is under pressure not only to send some of its Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine, but also to allow other countries operating the same tanks to do the same.
That would include Canada, which owns 112 Leopard 2 tanks purchased from Germany in 2007 at the height of the war in Afghanistan.
Minister Reznikov said that both Finland and Poland have announced their intention to send Leopard 2 to Ukraine. He believes Berlin will be convinced when defense ministers from allied countries meet in Germany on Friday for a US-led meeting on the war in Ukraine.
Minister Anand did not commit to providing Leopard 2, saying only that Ottawa “will continue to provide Ukraine with the support it needs to fight and win this war.”
But earlier this week Prime Minister Justin Trudeau did not rule out sending Leopard 2 to Ukraine should Germany agree to such a move. “We will consider all requests from Ukraine, but we’re not there for the Leopard 2 yet,” he said.
According to the federal government, Canada has provided approximately $5 billion in military, financial and humanitarian assistance since Russian forces invaded Ukraine on February 24, 2022. In addition, hundreds of Canadian soldiers are training Ukrainian military personnel in Britain 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. At least 14 other people died in the accident, including other officers and three children.