The Canadian government has given the green light for national defence contractors to sell weapons to Ukraine. This makes Canada a party to the conflict with all ensuing consequences. The decision sets no preconditions for selling the armaments to Ukraine. It has been taken despite the fact that Project Ploughshare and Amnesty International Canada opposed the plan, saying Kiev has so far failed to improve the human rights situation. Canada’s Standing Committee on National Defense has published a report entitled “Canada’s Support to Ukraine in Crisis and Armed Conflict,” which recommends that the government provide lethal weapons to Ukraine if it demonstrates active work on fighting corruption in the country. The recommendations include providing lethal weapons, intelligence exchange, cooperation in defense industry, support in countering cyberattacks, and in resisting to the dissemination of foreign propaganda and disinformation through the media. Granting visa-free travel to Canada for Ukrainians and promotion of Ukrainian interests at the G7 is also on the recommendations’ list.
The Canadian Cabinet hopes its decision will influence the US Administration to follow suit. The move puts Canada out ahead of the United States, which is considering its own arms sales. Kurt Volker, the US Special Representative to Ukraine, believes there’s no reason to continue the prohibition on delivering lethal weapons.
Ukraine is particularly interested in anti-tank weapons, counter-battery artillery radar, and armoured patrol vehicles like the US-made Humvees.
On December 12, US President Donald Trump signed a defense budget for 2018 providing for the possibility of offering Ukraine lethal weapons of a “defensive nature”. Congress has approved $500 million in “defensive lethal assistance” to Ukraine. Congress authorized $350 million more than the $150 million originally proposed by the administration. Now, the president can start arms supplies any time he chooses. Former President Barack Obama was unconvinced that granting Ukraine lethal defensive weapons would be the right decision in view of corruption widespread in Ukraine.
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