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Canada commits nearly $30 million to Czech-led initiative for Ukraine

by Rachel Amran March 20, 2024 3:13 AM 2 min read
Canadian Defense Minister Bill Blair in Ottawa on March 19, 2024. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick)
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Canada will commit nearly $30 million to the Czech Republic's initiative to provide Ukraine with ammunition, Canadian Defense Minister Bill Blair announced on March 19 at a press conference in Ottawa.

"Our contribution is going to enable the rapid delivery of several thousand rounds of artillery ammunition to Ukraine and, most importantly, the ammunition that they have told us they require," Blair said.  

Artillery shells are a crucial capability for Ukraine as the country faces critical ammunition shortages. Delays in U.S. military assistance, caused by disputes in Congress, have already had a direct impact on the battlefield, contributing to the loss of the key front-line city of Avdiivka.

Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala said on March 12 that the initiative has already secured the purchase of 300,000 shells and received nonbinding commitments for 200,000 more.

Canada will also be providing Ukraine with a package of night vision equipment valued at approximately $7.5 million.

During the same press conference, Blair announced that Canada and other partners of Ukraine are considering purchasing Ukrainian-made drones for their own domestic security needs.

Blair stated that during his visit to Kyiv last month, he met with Oleksandr Kamyshin, the Ukrainian Minister of Strategic Industries, to discuss Ukraine's achievements in drone production and its experience using drones on the battlefield. According to him, Ukraine's drone usage informs its industrial capacity and manufacturing capabilities.

"We discussed how we can work collaboratively together and even among coalition partners, including Canada, investing in the purchase of Ukrainian-made drones as well. I think it's a very real possibility. [Ukraine's] got two years of hardened battle experience, and the evolution of drones in warfare, I think, is something that we all need to learn from and to inform future defense-acquisition policy."

The Canadian official also announced that Canada officially joined the Ukrainian Defense Contact Group's Drone Capability Coalition, led by Ukraine and Latvia. Earlier this year, Latvia began building a coalition of about 20 countries to bolster Ukraine's arsenal of drones.

Drones have been a key tool in Ukraine's defense against Russia's war. President Volodymyr Zelensky has said that surpassing Russia in drone operations is one of the country's top priorities in 2024.

Amid uncertainties over Western military aid deliveries, Ukraine has intensified its efforts to ramp up domestic production of attack drones, aiming to manufacture 1 million drones this year.

WSJ: Ammunition suppliers for Czech-led initiative to aid Ukraine include Russian allies, Czech officials say
The ammunition suppliers taking part in the Czech-led initiative to provide Ukraine with artillery shells include “some allies of Russia,” the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported, citing unnamed Czech officials.
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