Canada joins allies in sending air defence missiles to Ukraine

Click to play video: 'Canadian troops salute Ukrainian recruits departing for war'
Canadian troops salute Ukrainian recruits departing for war
WATCH: Defence Minister Bill Blair joined Canadian troops at a training base in the U.K. on Sunday, where they held a special salute for a group of Ukrainian recruits departing for the war. Global News’ Redmond Shannon was there.

Canada will be contributing $33 million to a partnership with several allies to send air defence missiles to Ukraine, Defence Minister Bill Blair announced Sunday.

Blair made the announcement while in the United Kingdom on a visit with Canadian soldiers helping train Ukrainian recruits at an army base in southeast England.

The money will come from the $500-million fund Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced for military assistance in Ukraine while in Kyiv in June 2023 .

The partnership among allies was established that same month. The U.K., Denmark, Netherlands and the United States joined together to deliver hundreds of short and medium-range air defence missiles to Ukraine to defend against Russian missile and drone attacks.

Canada has committed over $1.8 billion in military assistance to Ukraine since February 2022. More than twice that amount has been sent in financial assistance.

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Click to play video: 'Anand announces additional military deployment to Latvia, includes 15 tanks, 130 Canadian personnel'
Anand announces additional military deployment to Latvia, includes 15 tanks, 130 Canadian personnel

“We understand our responsibility to provide support to the Ukraine. We’re listening very closely… about what they need in order to be successful in defending their country and to end this illegal invasion and occupation in their country,” Blair said in his announcement.

And this part of the collaborative approach, I think, is the right approach for Canada.”

Minister Blair held a town hall with Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) members during his visit in England and observed several Canadian-led training activities for Ukrainian recruits. He says there will be more announcements in the coming weeks.

CAF personnel have been running training courses at the U.K. training base for a little more than a year. About 2,600 Ukrainian recruits are getting training in weapons handling, battlefield first aid, field craft and patrol tactics.

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The CAF has trained over 37,000 Ukrainian military and security personnel since the start of the operation.

There are currently over 300 CAF members deployed under Operation UNIFIER training and support roles. Five training missions are underway in the U.K, Poland and Latvia.

Blair says the training program has helped the Ukrainian military be more effective in their response to Russian aggression.

The training that’s being provided here, I believe, and the evidence that Ukraine has provided us, is actually saving lives,” he said.

PICTURED: CAF infantry officer, “Stu”, at the U.K. training camp Sunday where Defence Minister Bill Blair made his announcement.

A number of Ukrainian soldiers were present at the U.K. base where Blair made his announcement Sunday. One recruit called “Gryzley”, who has been in the military for only a few months, says the first time he held a weapon was while at the CAF-led training.

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I really, really enjoyed being here, especially the Canadian instructors. They’re tough, but still I do enjoy working and training with them,”  said the recruit, whose real identity cannot be shared for protection.

He says Canadian instructors have been able to provide him and his team with the knowledge and experience needed to “push the enemy from our land.”

A CAF infanteer who goes by “Stu” for security purposes says the experience of training Ukrainian recruits has been humbling.

“These recruits are eager. They’re hungry to learn. A lot of them have experience, some of them don’t,” he said from the U.K. base.

“These soldiers that come through here are fighting for their freedom, their homeland, their families and their future from an unlawful invasion. And it is an absolute privilege to be a part of that process and help them to do that,he said.

— With files from Global News’ Redmond Shannon.

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