Canada’s defence chief has concluded his first trip to Ukraine since the Russian invasion started more than a year ago.
In a statement Saturday, the Department of National Defence said on his visit to the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv, General Wayne Eyre discussed how Canada and the Canadian Armed Forces can support Ukraine’s future needs.
The DND confirmed to Global News that this was Eyre’s first visit to the country since the war started on Feb. 24, 2022.
His last trip to Ukraine was in Dec. 2021.
“The situation in Ukraine and its wider impact reinforces the needed urgency to ensure Canadian Armed Forces’ continued readiness in support of Ukraine and NATO and in an increasingly dangerous world,” the DND statement read.
Eyre met with Ukrainian military officials and “discussed the current state of the war in Ukraine, and further bilateral defence cooperation between Ukraine and Canada,” DND said.
He also met Ukrainian soldiers and the Canadian Ambassador to Ukraine Larisa Galadza.
Canada has been a staunch supporter of Ukraine since Russia’s illegal invasion began.
The federal government says it has committed over $5 billion in multifaceted support to Ukraine, including over $2.6 billion in assistance, more than $1.2 billion in military aid, $320 million in humanitarian aid, $96 million in development assistance and more than $68 million in security and stabilization programming.
On the first anniversary of the war, Canada announced it will be sending an additional four Leopard 2 battle tanks to Ukraine, bringing the total number of tanks being sent by the government to the embattled country to eight.
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Eyre’s visit comes as Russia is on the cusp of its first major victory in half a year after the bloodiest fighting of the war.
Russian forces mounted pressure Saturday on Ukrainians hunkered down in the besieged city of Bakhmut.
Residents attempted to flee with help from Ukrainian troops, who Western analysts say may be preparing to withdraw from the key eastern stronghold.
Bakhmut has for months been a prime target of Moscow’s grinding eastern offensive, with Russian troops, including forces from the private Wagner Group, inching ever closer.
— With files from Global News’ Aaron D’Andrea and The Associated Press