Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Canada to help protect Ukraine border

An activist smokes a cigarette after clashes with a special forces police battalion in Independence Square, Kyiv, Ukraine, Thursday, Aug. 7, 2014. Demonstrators on Thursday confronted city workers attempting to clear a central square, lighting tires on fire in protest against the city government's move. Efrem Lukatsky/Associated Press
Canada will send military equipment to help Ukraine protect its eastern border, Defence Minister Rob Nicholson said last week.

"Ukraine has asked for this and once again we are delivering," Nicholson said at CFB Trenton, a busy air base located a 90-minute drive east of Toronto. 

"[Russian President Vladimir] Putin’s failure to end his support to armed rebel groups constitutes a real threat to international peace and security​."

The equipment includes helmets, ballistic eyewear, protective vests, first-aid kits, tents and sleeping bags, according to a news release from the Prime Minister's Office.

The release says the equipment "will allow Ukrainian security and border authorities to better detect and track the movement of illicit goods and people."

NATO says it fears Russia is poised to invade Ukraine, with 20,000 soldiers positioned along the country's border.

Non-lethal, but no ban on weapons sales

Kirill Kalinin, a spokesman for the Russian Embassy in Ottawa, said there are no plans to invade Ukraine.

ym Prystaiko, Ukraine's ambassador to Canada, thanked the government for the aid.

"Ukrainian foot soldiers are bearing heavy losses and this equipment will be able to save them, to bring more fathers back to their families and their kids and their sons," he said.

"Each and every soldier who will be equipped with protective gears … will feel and understand the support and care of the Canadian brothers in arms. 

Worth up to $5M
Canada is sending military personnel with the equipment, but turning over the equipment to the Ukrainians upon arrival, Nicholson said. The equipment will be delivered over a series of flights on a CC-130J Hercules.

In June, U.S. President Barack Obama pledged $5 million in military aid to Ukraine, including body armour and night vision goggles. Until then, the U.S. had only provided non-lethal forms of aid like clothes, food and radios. Prystaiko said Canada joins the U.S., the Netherlands, Lithuania and other countries in providing assistance, but has provided the most.

Last February, Canada pledged $200,000 in medical aid to Ukraine after months of protests and violent suppression in the country. Canada later pledged $220 million in financial support, conditional on the establishment of a broader package by the International Monetary Fund

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