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Bill Blair, Minister of National Defence, makes an announcement regarding additional SkyRanger R70 drone support to Ukraine in Toronto on Feb. 19.Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press

Five days before the second anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Defence Minister Bill Blair announced Monday that Canada is sending its beleaguered ally more than 800 Canadian-made drones.

The $95-million commitment, part of a $500-million package of aid pledged by the federal government last June, will send SkyRanger R70 drones manufactured by Teledyne FLIR in Waterloo, Ont., to assist Ukraine in surveillance and countermeasures. The remotely piloted aerial vehicles can carry a payload of up to 3.5 kilograms.

At an event in Toronto, Mr. Blair said that the drone purchase was part of Canada’s “continuing and unrelenting resolve to be there for Ukraine.”

In its efforts to repel Russia’s invasion, “Ukraine is not only fighting to defend itself,” Mr. Blair said, “they’re fighting to defend us all.”

However, unless the United States Congress is able to overcome the political paralysis gripping Washington, Ukraine’s ability to withstand Russian aggression is far from certain, whatever Canada or other North Atlantic Treaty Organization members may do.

The United States has been by far the largest single supporter of military and financial aid to Ukraine. But Republicans in the House of Representatives are blocking a US$95-billion package devoted to military support for Ukraine, Israel and other allies.

Starved of shells and cash, the Ukrainian effort to hold back Russian advances has begun to falter. The Russians are on the offensive on multiple fronts, and recently claimed to have fully occupied the city of Avdiivka, the biggest Russian victory since its occupation of Bakhmut last May.

To help fill the breach created by American political deadlock, some NATO countries have stepped up support. Denmark, for one, has announced it is donating its entire supply of artillery to Ukraine. The Canadian drones will also be welcome.

But without American support, Ukraine is unlikely to prevail.

“I welcome all efforts by Canada and European allies, but the most important single decision is a decision of the U.S. to agree a package of support, because of the magnitude and the military capabilities” of the U.S. military, Jens Stoltenberg, Secretary-General to NATO, said on the weekend, according to the Financial Times.

Former U.S. president Donald Trump, who appears certain to win the Republican presidential nomination, has urged Republicans in Congress to block any further aid to Ukraine. While a number of Republican senators allied with Democrats to pass the aid package in the Senate, House Speaker Mike Johnson refuses to submit the bill for a vote in the House of Representatives.

Republicans offer a variety of reasons for their resistance, including that Ukraine cannot win the war and that any further aid would be money wasted, and that the federal government should focus on its porous southern border, rather than on overseas entanglements.

Mr. Trump has long been an admirer of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Reacting to the death of Russian dissident Alexey Navalny – condemned by President Joe Biden, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and other leaders throughout the Western alliance – Mr. Trump refused to lay blame at the Russian President’s feet, declaring instead on social media on Monday: “The sudden death of Alexey Navalny has made me more and more aware of what is happening in our Country. It is a slow, steady progression, with CROOKED, Radical Left Politicians, Prosecutors, and Judges leading us down a path to destruction.”

There appears to be little doubt that, if Mr. Trump is returned as president, the United States will abandon Ukraine to its fate.

Mr. Blair predicted that the American aid would eventually come through. “We’re very confident the Americans are going to get through that political process as quickly as possible,” he told the CBC in an interview broadcast Sunday, “and in the interim, the rest of us are all stepping up.”

Over the past two years, Canada has committed more than $2.4-billion in military assistance to Ukraine, including Leopard 2 battle tanks, armoured vehicles, anti-tank weapons, and other weapons and munitions. Total assistance in all forms since February, 2022, has reached $9.7-billion.

The SkyRanger R70 drones are able to carry camera systems and payloads. Mr. Blair described the drone as “one of the best of its kind in the world.” Canada will also assist in training Ukrainians to operate the drones, which are scheduled to arrive in Ukraine this spring.

Last June, Mr. Trudeau committed Canada to reaching the NATO minimum of spending 2 per cent of GDP on defence in the wake of Russian aggression. The country currently spends only 1.4 per cent of GDP on defence.

On Sunday, Mr. Blair said that while his government had made investments in new ships and aircraft, “the world has changed. The world has become a far more significant and dangerous place.”

“We will do more,” he added. “We must do more.”

Editor’s note: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that the proposed U.S. military support package for Ukraine, Israel and other allies is US$95-million. It is worth US$95-billion. This version has been updated.

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