Canadian missiles could help the Ukrainian army

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Canadians may have been alarmed to see increased defense spending as a priority in the federal budget tabled by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government. At a time when the government must tackle climate change and as the country continues to battle COVID-19, defense might not be seen as a priority. However, the war in Ukraine has changed government priorities in countries around the world, including Canada.

When Russian President Vladimir Putin impetuously invaded Ukraine on February 24, the world was appalled. Months, if not years, of warnings from Western nations had done little to deter Mr. Putin’s reckless desire to reclaim Ukraine as part of Russia. Today, the headlines remind us daily that Russia is waging a ruthless and remorseless war against neighboring Ukraine.

Mr. Putin failed to achieve the quick and decisive victory he had so clearly anticipated. While it is encouraging that the Ukrainians were able to block the Russian invasion, even forcing a retreat in some areas, there are growing signs that this conflict could – in the absence of a ceasefire – negotiated fire – continue for a very long time. This possibility should motivate Canada, and other Western countries, to be as generous as possible in terms of military support.


MIKHAIL KLIMENTYEV / SPUTNIK / KREMLIN POOL PHOTO VIA AP

When Russian President Vladimir Putin violently invaded Ukraine on February 24, the world was appalled. Months, if not years, of warnings from Western nations had done little to deter Mr. Putin’s reckless desire to reclaim Ukraine as part of Russia.

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MIKHAIL KLIMENTYEV/SPUTNIK/KREMLIN POOL PHOTO VIA AP

When Russian President Vladimir Putin impetuously invaded Ukraine on February 24, the world was appalled. Months, if not years, of warnings from Western nations had done little to deter Mr. Putin’s reckless desire to reclaim Ukraine as part of Russia.

To date, Canada has stepped up its contribution to “lethal” military aid, sending or preparing to send rocket launchers, grenades, anti-tank weapons, body armor, helmets, gas masks and night vision devices, as well as two J-130 tactical aircraft and crew to provide aid and support to Ukrainian troops.

Those contributions were reinforced in great detail in Thursday’s federal budget, which included $8 billion in new defense spending over the next five years, including $500 million this year to provide lethal and non-lethal military aid to Ukraine.

However, Canada is still reluctant to certain demands. This week the national post reported that a group of defense contractors has asked the Liberal government to donate some of Canada’s modest stockpile of Harpoon missiles, a surface-to-air anti-ship weapon that could be used to help stop Russian forces from mount an amphibious assault on the Ukrainian region of Odessa along the Black Sea coast.

There have been fears for some time that Russia is trying to destabilize Ukrainian forces by launching a new assault on Ukraine’s southern coast. As Canada is phasing out the use of Harpoon missiles, the time has come to add these weapons to Canada’s total contribution to Ukraine.

As Canada is phasing out the use of Harpoon missiles, the time has come to add these weapons to Canada’s total contribution to Ukraine.

Canada is not a military power, and supplying weapons does not mean committing to supplying boots on the ground in Ukraine. Canada — along with many countries, including the United States — is extremely reluctant to get directly involved in this conflict. The presence of troops on the front lines could trigger the eruption of World War III, which would bring with it the very real possibility of nuclear weapons being brought into play.

The best possible outcome in this conflict is that providing as much support as possible will help Ukraine push back Russian troops, pushing them back across the border they breached in late February. To achieve this outcome, Canada and other Western nations will need to operate outside their traditional comfort zones when it comes to providing military support.

The best possible outcome in this conflict is that providing as much support as possible will help Ukraine push back Russian troops, pushing them back across the border they breached in late February.

Absent this support for Ukraine, Mr. Putin could most likely use the beleaguered country as a foothold to launch further military advances in Eastern Europe, or even the Arctic, where Canada is always vigilant against Russian incursions. These are not outcomes that the world, including Canada, can afford.

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