Artillery types

Ukraine requests anti-aircraft weapons, artillery and armored vehicles as Canada prepares $500m aid

Members of the Canadian Forces load lethal and non-lethal aid to be sent to Ukraine, aboard a transport plane bound for Poland, March 7.LARS HAGBERG/Reuters

Ukraine’s top priorities for the $500 million Canada is committing to military aid to Kyiv in Budget 2022 are the same it is requesting from all of its allies: anti-aircraft weapons, artillery and armored vehicles , a senior Ukrainian diplomat said on Wednesday.

“We need things that can help us close the sky first. Secondly, we need tanks and heavy artillery to defend ourselves and also to advance the attack and advance where possible,” said Andriy Shevchenko, former Ukrainian ambassador to Canada.

Mr Shevchenko, who is also an officer in Ukraine’s reserve forces, said kyiv expects it to face a ‘Second World War’ type ground battle in eastern Ukraine where the Russia has refocused its attack.

He said Ukraine expects it to face “a lot of tanks, armored vehicles and artillery” as Moscow tries to consolidate its hold there.

“That pretty much gives you an idea of ​​what we need,” said the former envoy to Canada. He said that Ukraine needs these armaments now.

Russian forces have abandoned their attempt to capture the capital kyiv but are stepping up efforts in eastern Ukraine. Moscow is building up its forces for a new assault on the Donbass region, setting the stage for a protracted battle. Heavy casualties are a certainty on both sides, military analysts have said, as the Russians attempt to surround Ukrainian fighters.

Last week, the federal government earmarked half a billion dollars in the 2022 budget for what it called “military aid” to Ukraine, but it did not specify how it will spend the money. Daniel Minden, press secretary to Defense Minister Anita Anand, declined to give further details on Wednesday, saying only that Ms Anand “is in frequent contact with Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov about the most urgent needs. of Ukraine and the best way for Canada to help”.

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Ottawa said in March that it had exhausted the available inventory of military donations after sending rocket launchers to Ukraine, and that it should purchase additional equipment instead of rummaging through its stores.

David Perry, president of the Canadian Institute of Global Affairs, said there is currently such demand for new weapons on the international market that many Western countries are looking first to their domestic arms industry.

“Everyone has donated things to Ukraine and is trying to restock and everyone is trying to find more things to donate to Ukraine, but there is only a limited amount,” Ms. Perry.

“If you go to the US market, you’re competing with the US government to get you something and send it to Ukraine.”

He said Canada should look to its armored vehicle industry, the largest manufacturer of which is General Dynamics Land Systems in London, Ontario. It manufactures light armored vehicles (LAVs) for the Canadian Armed Forces and exports them to buyers like the Saudi government. “This is a finished product made in Canada.

Roman Shimonov, president of Roshel Inc., a Mississauga-based armored vehicle maker, said he receives many international requests to buy his products to ship to Ukraine. He said his vehicles are not intended for offensive operations but for defensive purposes such as medical evacuation.

Retired Lt. Gen. Michael Day said Canada should carefully coordinate Ukrainian military aid with its allies so that international donations don’t arrive irregularly, clogging that country’s supply lines, or that kyiv is not forced to spend energy on receiving unnecessary contributions.

The latest phase of the war in eastern Ukraine means “there will be an increased level of conventional military combat activity: Ukrainians versus Russians,” Day said. “We have to work on the assumption that the ability of the Ukrainian military to sustain this fight will depend entirely on the ability of the Western world to circulate ammunition.”

Separately, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has weighed in on growing calls to declare Russia’s actions in Ukraine a genocide, saying it’s “absolutely right” that the term be used given widespread allegations of war crimes. and other human rights violations.

Trudeau made the comments at a press conference in Laval, Que., on Wednesday after U.S. President Joe Biden told reporters the day before that Russia’s conduct in Ukraine appeared to him to be genocide. .

Although the two North American leaders noted that it will be up to lawyers to determine whether Russia’s actions meet the international norm of genocide, they were nevertheless united in welcoming the use of the term.

“As President Biden has pointed out, there are formal processes around genocide determinations,” Trudeau said. “But I think it’s absolutely right that more and more people are talking and using the word ‘genocide’ in terms of what Russia is doing.”

The prime minister went on to list a series of war crimes and human rights abuses allegedly committed by Russian forces under the leadership of President Vladimir Putin, including deliberate attacks on civilians and the use of violence sexual.

“They are attacking Ukrainian identity and culture,” Trudeau said. “These are all things that are war crimes for which Putin is responsible. These are all things that are crimes against humanity.

With reports from Reuters and The Canadian Press

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