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Canada to contribute $76M to German-led air defence fund for Ukraine – National | Globalnews.ca

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Canada will contribute $76 million to a German-led initiative to raise funds for air defence systems that will be sent to Ukraine, the Canadian and German defence ministers announced Friday.

Defence Minister Bill Blair and his German counterpart Boris Pistorius signed a letter of intent for the contribution to Germany’s Immediate Action on Air Defence initiative after a joint meeting in Ottawa.

The initiative pools money and resources from international partners to quickly source and deliver air defence systems to the battlefield.

“This investment will help Ukraine defend itself against brutal attacks that have destroyed hospitals, power plants and apartment blocks and have killed thousands of innocent Ukrainians,” Blair told reporters.

A spokesperson for Blair’s office confirmed to Global News the funding comes from the $1.6 billion in Ukraine military aid over five years previously announced in the latest federal budget.

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Pistorius said air defence systems acquired through the German fund are due to be delivered to Ukraine “during the coming weeks.”


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Blair noted it would take several years for Canada to acquire the same air defence systems Germany is purchasing and delivering through its fund.


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He said both he and Pistorius have heard directly from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy that the Ukrainian army is in “urgent need” of air defence capabilities as Russia escalates its missile attacks on civilian and energy infrastructure.

Canada committed $406 million to purchase a National Advanced Surface to Air Missile System (NASAMS) and missiles from the U.S. more than a year ago, but production delays have hampered the delivery of that system. That’s forced Canada to turn to initiatives like Germany’s and a similar one led by Britain, which Ottawa contributed $33 million to in September.

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“What we have found is that (the procurement of new systems) is taking time, time that perhaps Ukraine may not have,” Blair said.

Blair wouldn’t provide an updated timeline on the delivery of the U.S. system when asked Friday.

Similar delays in the production of artillery also led Canada to partner with the Czech Republic to acquire existing rounds that can be sent quickly to Ukraine, at a cost of $53 million. Producing those same munitions domestically would take years to deliver on, Blair said.


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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced in February, on the second anniversary of Russia’s full-scale invasion, that Canada was committing just over $3 billion in military and financial aid to Ukraine for 2024. Canada has committed $4 billion in military aid since the war began, and defence officials say most of that aid has been delivered.

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NATO allies have been ramping up their commitments in military aid to Ukraine in recent weeks, particularly after the U.S. approved a new $61-billion aid package after months of delay.

In the time it took to get that aid passed, Ukraine has run low on ammunition and missiles while Russia has amassed its own military capabilities, and Moscow’s army has begun retaking some territory in Ukraine’s east.

The U.S., along with the U.K. and other allies, have begun sending long-range missile systems to Ukraine that have the capability of striking within Russian territory. In response, Russia announced this week it would begin practicing deploying tactical nuclear weapons during military drills, once again raising the spectre of escalating the conflict into a nuclear one.

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