On Wednesday, the United States and Germany each committed tanks to the war-torn nation as it enters one year into its conflict with Russia.
Canada’s Defence Minister Anita Anand visited Kyiv, Ukraine, last week to meet with her Ukrainian counterpart Oleksii Reznikov, who requested Leopard 2 tanks against the invading Russian forces.
Though noncommittal at the time, Anand agreed Thursday to send four Leopard 2 tanks as part of ongoing military assistance for the war-torn nation.
However, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz amplified pressure Wednesday by permitting allies to donate the Leopard 2’s to Ukraine as its said producer.
“These tanks will allow Ukraine to liberate even more of its territory and defend its people from Russia’s brutal invasion,” said Anand.
She maintained that her government could only donate four tanks not to deplete its military reserves, though it may not be the last time Canada makes further donations.
“Although I am announcing the donation of four tanks today, this number may grow as we coordinate donation and sustainment plans with our allies,” said Anand, who also agreed to deploy Canadian Armed Forces to train Ukrainian soldiers on operating the tanks.
The Trudeau Liberals controversially sent Ukraine $406 million in air defence measures last week despite the Canadian military operating without similar air defence capabilities since 2012.
Circa 2017, plans for a new air defence system for the Canadian Armed Forces have remained in limbo. The feds proposed purchasing an air defence system in its 2018 defence capability plan, but that acquisition is still under review.
Army officers estimate the costs at between $500 million and $1 billion, with a contract expected for 2026 and the first anti-air defence systems in place a year later.
The Trudeau Liberals 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.
A NASAMS is a short- to medium-range ground-based air defence system that protects against drone, missile, and aircraft attacks.
Anand said last week that the need for Canada to aid Ukraine against Russia’s invasion shows “the international rules-based order is under threat like it has never been under threat before.”
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.