Trudeau pledges another $500 million to Ukraine amid military equipment shortages

As part of Operation Unifier, Canadian military personnel operating out of Latvia and Poland have conducted their mandate without sufficient military equipment and food.

Trudeau pledges another $500 million to Ukraine amid military equipment shortages
AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky
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The Canadian gravy train keeps on trekking to Ukraine after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced $500 million more in military aid for the war-torn nation.

As part of a delegation, Trudeau visited Kyiv Saturday and met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who requested additional assistance from the NATO member to counter Russian aggression.

The Leopard battle tanks donated by Canada are now in action in southern Ukraine, said a top security official on June 9. Evidence has mounted that a long-anticipated counteroffensive to liberate Russian-occupied territories has begun.

"All the equipment we have received works to destroy the enemy…and all this equipment is actively being used on the front line," Oleksiy Danilov, the secretary of Ukraine's National Security and Defence Council, told The Globe and Mail.

In a 13-point joint declaration, Canada reaffirmed its commitment to support Ukraine but walked back on supporting their entry into NATO with tensions high. "Canada supports Ukraine to become a NATO member as soon as conditions allow for it," said the statement.

"We're thankful for everything you did for us, for our people, refugees and our army," Zelenskyy told Trudeau. Canada has pledged over $8 billion in military, financial, and humanitarian aid to Ukraine.

Canadian military aid includes artillery, air defence systems, rocket launchers, defensive equipment, ammunition, hundreds of armoured vehicles and nearly a dozen Leopard 2 tanks.

The federal government also donated 200 armoured vehicles as part of a larger $500 million assistance package announced in November, with $406 million in NASAMS and an unspecified number of air-defence missiles.

The $406 million air defence donation went through despite the Canadian military operating without similar air defence capabilities since 2012.

Plans for a new air defence system for the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) remain in limbo. The proposed purchase of an air defence system in its 2018 defence capability plan remains under review, with costs projected between $500 million and $1 billion.

Additionally, as part of Operation Unifier, the Canadian military personnel operating out of Latvia and Poland have conducted their mandate without sufficient military equipment and food.

Over 700 Canadian soldiers stationed in Latvia have had to purchase their military equipment, including helmets, rain gear, tactical vests and ammunition, to maintain current ballistic protection standards.

The Department of National Defence said procuring new military equipment for its troops in the region is in the works. However, they did not commit to any timelines or provide pertinent details.

In April, Rebel News learned that nearly 1,000 Canadian troops stationed in Poland to train allied soldiers incurred thousands of dollars in debt to cover food costs abroad. 

The CAF did not send military cooks on the mission but has pledged to expedite reimbursement for affected soldiers by "[taking] immediate steps to address" the backlog. 

In April, Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland pledged ongoing subsidies to Ukraine until it "wins the war." After committing to additional loans and grants in Budget 2023, taxpayer aid to the war-torn country counties climbed.

"We will be there until Ukraine wins the war," said Freeland.

"Ukrainians right now are fighting for the fundamentals of democracy, for the U.N. Charter — for the values and principles that underpin our country and so many others," Trudeau told reporters. 

"That's why we stand with Ukraine."

According to in-house research by the Department of Foreign Affairs, spending on aid abroad costs $6.4 billion a year, excluding extraordinary funding for COVID pandemic relief or Ukraine's war effort. 

"Survey results reveal some fairly negative views about certain aspects of international aid," said a department report. "More than half of Canadians say a lot of international aid from Canada ends up in the pockets of corrupt politicians in the developing world (56%) and that most international aid does not get to the intended recipients (54%)."

According to Blacklock's Reporter, Canadians share "fairly negative views" about foreign aid, with a quarter nationwide favouring funding cuts.

The survey asked whether the government should increase or decrease the money it spends on international aid. Only one-third (33%) proposed more spending.

According to an internal Department of Finance poll published by Blacklock's Reporter in April, fewer than a third (32%) of Canadians supported more financial aid for Ukraine. Only 36% of Canadians oppose ongoing help.

Ottawa's budget document, A Made In Canada Plan, proposed an additional $200 million in military aid and $84.8 million in civilian assistance to pay Ukrainian pensions and deliver essential services to the country.

"It's one thing to promise the money. It's another thing for that money to hit Ukrainian bank accounts," said Freeland on August 25. "You don't need to trust me about this."

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