Defense: Canada, U.S. in lockstep for support to Ukraine, NATO

Washigton, April 28, 2022.- Canada and the United States are in lockstep in their support for Ukraine in its fight against Russia, defense leaders said following Pentagon meetings today.

Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III hosted Canadian Minister of National Defense Anita Anand for the meeting that also covered the wide range of issues facing both neighbors.

«Canada isn’t just a great neighbor, it’s also a true friend and a steadfast ally,» Austin said during a news conference following the meeting. «And today, we’re grateful for Canada’s resolute support of the Ukrainian people after Russia’s reckless and lawless invasion.»

It was the second time in a week that the two leaders had met. Austin and Anand also spoke at the Contact Group on Ukrainian Defense held at Ramstein Air Base, Germany on Monday. At that meeting, Canada pledged to send eight armored vehicles and other vital supplies to Ukraine.

Austin was able to brief the Canadian leader on President Joe Biden’s request to Congress to aid Ukraine’s struggle against the Russian invasion. «I’m proud to note that the President has now requested $16 billion for the Department of Defense to address Ukraine’s self-defense needs in the crucial weeks ahead,» he said. «This supplemental request includes $6 billion more for the Ukraine security assistance initiative, which helps us to procure weapons and systems for Ukraine, and $5 billion for additional presidential drawdown authority, which allows us to continue providing critical material from our own inventory, and another $5 billion dollars to help us pay for the operational cost of bolstering NATO’s eastern flank, as well as additional investments. For instance, it features something we call a critical munitions acquisition fund, which will allow the department to purchase and establish a strategic reserve of vital munitions like anti-aircraft and anti-tank munitions to surge for this crisis, and quite frankly, crises to come.»

The two leaders also discussed matters unrelated to Ukraine, including the North American Aerospace Defense Command — a binational command with its headquarters in Colorado Springs, Colorado. «We talked about our joint efforts to strengthen North American defense ties, including the need to ensure a stable Arctic region where international norms are respected, and we discussed how we’re both working with regional partners in Latin America and the Caribbean to combat threats like transnational crime and drug trafficking,» Austin said.

The two also discussed China and both nations’ commitments to ensuring a secure and open Indo-Pacific region. «That’s why I’m so pleased that last year for the first time, Canada participated in a cooperative Taiwan Strait transit with the United States,» he said. «And we’re going to find additional opportunities to work together on our shared vision of a secure, open and prosperous Indo-Pacific.»

Canada has long been involved in ensuring Ukraine’s security and sovereignty. Since 2015, Canada trained more than 33,000 Ukrainian soldiers. Canada is also training Ukrainian soldiers right now to operate M-777 howitzers, Anand said.

In addition to the eight armored vehicles, «in the coming weeks we will continue to supply Ukraine with the equipment that it needs to fight and win,» the minister of national defense said. «At this crucial time for Euro-Atlantic security, Canada’s commitment to the NATO alliance is unwavering.»

To back this up, Canada has recently deployed a second frigate to NATO’s maritime forces and added more troops and capabilities to the Canadian-led multinational battlegroup in Latvia.

«At this crucial moment, Russia is testing the will of Canada, the United States and our allies and partners,» Anand said. «Russia cannot redraw maps at will to suit its own ends. Russia cannot erode the rules-based international order without consequences. Sovereign nations cannot be erased from the map. And NATO cannot be divided. In fact, as we saw in Germany this week, we are more united than ever before. And we will continue to stand with Ukraine. We remain prepared to defend every inch of NATO territory, and we will always do whatever it takes to ensure the security of our North American continent.»

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