Canadian aid to Ukraine continues as the Trudeau Liberals donated 200 armoured personnel carriers to its ally Wednesday.
Ukraine's Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov thanked Canada for the Senator APCs, “which will protect our warriors.” He said the vehicles came to Ukraine as part of a “very important” assistance package that included Canada's recent purchase of a National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile System.
Canadian Defence Minister Anita Anand said the provision of the 200 Senator APCs — made by Mississauga-based Roshel — upholds their commitment to defend democracy. Each vehicle accommodates eight soldiers, a driver, and a front-seat passenger, with room for a gunner.
“I have repeatedly heard that Ukrainian troops appreciate their manoeuvrability and adaptability,” said Anand. “The vehicles offer state-of-the-art, best-in-class technology, and weapons can easily be mounted on them.”
It's expected that all 200 vehicles will be shipped to Ukraine by the summer to transport troops to the front line and assist in medical evacuations. Last April, Canada donated eight Senator APCs and other armoured vehicles purchased from Roshel, which took a month to reach the war-torn nation.
Wednesday's $90 million donation is part of a larger $500 million assistance package announced in November, with $406 million in NASAMS and an unspecified number of air-defence missiles.
A NASAMS is a short- to medium-range ground-based air defence system that protects against drone, missile and aircraft attacks.
Anand said the need for Canada to aid Ukraine against Russia's invasion shows “the international rules-based order under threat like it has never been under threat before.”
But the aid comes amid criticism that the Canadian Armed Forces remained without such equipment for over a decade. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's defence minister failed to explain how the government acted so quickly on Ukraine's behalf while ignoring the needs of its military.
“We continue to work towards procuring Ground-Based Air Defence Equipment for the Canadian Armed Forces — and Minister Anand is committed to getting this done, as outlined in our defence policy,” reads a written statement from the Department of National Defence.
Since 2012, the Canadian military has operated without air defence capabilities despite several attempts to convince past governments to purchase such equipment.
In 1989, they had a state-of-the-art air defence anti-tank system known as ADATS. It protected bases in Germany against attack by the Russians, but with the Cold War ending soon after, the military shipped the systems back to Canada.
Despite brief usage during the G8 summit in Alberta in 2002, the ADATS was sparingly used and removed from service a decade later, citing budget cuts from the Conservative government. Deemed a “risky” decision by army officers, they considered the budget cut acceptable in the short term.
But since 2017, plans for a new air defence system have remained in limbo. The Trudeau Liberals proposed purchasing an air defence system in its 2018 defence capability plan, but that acquisition is still under review.