Canada revealed on Friday that it is sending armoured vehicles to Ukraine and is in talks to reopen the Canadian embassy in Kyiv, as other countries restore operations at their diplomatic missions in the Ukrainian capital.
The Canadian government also revealed more details of its pledged heavy-artillery donation to Ukraine, saying in a statement it has already secretly delivered several M-777 howitzer guns from its own inventory.
The government did not specify how many had been sent, but one official said the number was four. The Globe is not naming the official because they were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly.
Ukraine’s government is asking foreign countries to reopen their embassies in Kyiv now that Russian forces have backed off an attempt to capture the capital city. Moscow is instead redoubling its efforts in Ukraine’s south and east.
Seated beside Ukrainian Minister of Finance Sergii Marchenko at a news conference in Washington on Friday, Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said Canada is actively discussing a diplomatic return to Kyiv.
“We’re talking about it – and we hear our Ukrainian friends,” she said.
Ms. Freeland said she met with Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal on Thursday night, and that he talked to her about efforts the Ukrainian government is making to restore life in the capital to normal.
“He talked about how the Ukrainian government is working very hard to make it safe and possible for embassies to return to Kyiv,” she said.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Friday announced the United Kingdom will reopen its embassy in the city. The European Union and more than a dozen European countries have already reopened their diplomatic posts there.
Canada suspended operations at its Kyiv embassy on Feb. 12, nearly two weeks before Russia’s full-scale attack on Ukraine began. A small group of remaining diplomats decamped to the western Ukrainian city of Lviv. They continued processing immigration and visa applications until Feb. 24, when all of them, including Ambassador Larisa Galadza, left the country.
Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly said in a statement Friday that Canada’s main concern about returning to Kyiv is security.
“Ensuring the safety of our staff is a top priority and we need to make sure the security situation on the ground allows for it,” she said.
Ms. Joly added that reopening the embassy would be “both a symbolic gesture to communicate our strong and continued support for Ukraine, as well as a means to continue to offer services for Canadians” in Ukraine.
The Canadian government gave few details on the armoured vehicles being sent, saying in a statement only that “a number” would be purchased and shipped over. The government said these would be “commercial pattern” armoured vehicles, suggesting they would not be designed for offensive action.
Ottawa said it was finalizing a contract for these vehicles, but did not reveal the supplier. A government official said the company would be Mississauga-based Roshel Inc. The Globe is not naming the official because they were not authorized to speak publicly on the matter.
Roshel president Roman Shimonov would not comment specifically on the government purchase, but he said he is receiving many international inquires about buying his products to ship them to Ukraine. He said his vehicles are not meant for offensive operations, but rather for defensive purposes, such as medical evacuation.
Ms. Freeland, who was in Washington for April meetings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank, also urged Russia’s expulsion from the Group of 20, a collection of the world’s largest economies that works to further international economic and financial co-operation. She said the G20 cannot function effectively with Russia as a member, as long as Moscow is attacking Ukraine.
“Russia does not have a place at the table of countries who have come together to maintain global economic prosperity,” she said. “You can’t be a poacher and a gamekeeper at the same time.”
Canada, the United States, the U.K. and European countries walked out of a G20 meeting in protest on Wednesday as Russian officials spoke.
Canada has pledged $900-million in military aid to Ukraine, though much of that amount remains unallocated. This country has shipped $110-million worth of military gear since the start of the Russian assault in February, and committed another $500-million in the 2022 federal budget, including heavy artillery.
The $900-million figure includes $338-million over several years for future training of Ukrainian military through Canada’s Operation Unifier, but this money is going unspent as the war in Ukraine continues.
Canada has also pledged $1.62-billion in loans to help Ukraine function during the war – $1-billion through the IMF and $620-million directly.
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