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A Ukrainian serviceman holds an artillery shell as a howitzer towards Russian troops at a position in a frontline near the town of Kreminna, Ukraine, on March 4.Inna Varenytsia/Reuters

Canada’s top soldier says he’s worried that the West’s resolve to back Ukraine is faltering.

General Wayne Eyre, Chief of Canada’s Defence Staff, told an Ottawa audience Thursday that he is concerned about the absence of urgency in Canada and other countries to marshal their industrial bases to help supply Ukraine.

“Ukraine, despite its incredible will to fight, is dependent on Western support,” Gen. Eyre told the Conference of Defence Associations Institute conference.

“And I am worried that our support is faltering,” he said. “We have not had the sense of urgency necessary to mobilize our industrial base, including here in Canada – which would be a clear sign that we’re in this for the long haul, however long it takes.”

Ukraine has been fighting off a Russian military assault since February, 2022, and in recent months, the increasingly better-equipped Russians have gained momentum, with Ukrainian soldiers reporting they had to abandon the eastern city of Avdiivka and other villages to Moscow because of a lack of ammunition.

Even as further U.S. military support to Kyiv is being blocked by American Republicans who argue Russia cannot be defeated, Ukraine has also been struggling to overcome an insufficient supply of rockets and other munitions.

Putin’s plan for victory is to outlast the West. It is truly a contest of wills,” Gen. Eyre said, referring to Russian President Vladimir Putin. “If Putin is allowed to win, then the very rules and principles that keep us all safe are in grave danger.”

Canada has donated approximately 40,000 rounds of 155 mm ammunition since the conflict began. Last month the Ukrainian government said in a letter to the European Union that it needs about 200,000 155 mm shells per month.

David Perry, president of the Canadian Global Affairs Institute, said Canada’s effort to date to deliver shells to Ukraine has been “pretty minimal.”

Canadian Defence Minister Bill Blair on Thursday announced $4.4-million in funding for three manufacturers of 155 mm ammunition. The money, to support modernization efforts, will be given to IMT Defence in Ingersoll, Ont., General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems-Canada in Repentigny, Que. as well as General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems-Canada in Valleyfield, Que.

The Department of National Defence said in an e-mailed statement Thursday that the new money will fund research to switch 155 mm shell production in Canada from the M107 variant to the longer-range and more lethal M795 variety.

Mr. Perry said he thinks the research money is a precursor to another federal investment down the line to underwrite the switch to M795 shells. But, he said, “the real question is why it’s only happening now” – more than two years after Russia’s all-out assault began.

He said private companies aren’t going to make an investment in a highly regulated market “unless they’ve got a contract from the host country or a clear line of sight on an export permit to allow it to happen.”

Canada has the monthly production capacity for 5,000 M107 variant shells. But the Department of National Defence won’t divulge how many are produced each month, saying it’s up to the private manufacturers. “For operational security reasons, we cannot confirm the quantities that have been procured or produced in Canada,” National Defence spokesperson Andrée-Anne Poulin said in an e-mail to The Globe last month.

Responding to a question after his conference remarks Thursday, Gen. Eyre said talks are taking place for Canada to join the non-nuclear component of AUKUS, a security pact between Australia, Britain and the United States that was struck to counter China’s rising military might in the Indo-Pacific region.

The Globe reported last year that Ottawa is seeking to participate in the second pillar of the AUKUS agreement but not the acquisition of nuclear submarines. The second pillar of the pact provides for information-sharing and close co-operation on accelerating development of cutting-edge technologies, including undersea defence capabilities, artificial intelligence, quantum technology and hypersonic warfare.

“We have value to add and yes, we should be interested in that and discussions continue as to what an expansion of that second pillar would look like,” Gen. Eyre said.

This country has a lot to contribute, he said, listing space science, artificial intelligence, quantum research and cyber military capabilities, he said.

Canada was conspicuously absent when AUKUS was first announced in September, 2021. The three member countries are among this country’s closest allies, and like Canada, they are members of the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing partnership. National-security experts feared Canada, a laggard on defence spending, was being excluded from a new “Three Eyes” group.

On Haiti, Gen. Eyre played down any role for Canada’s military in the country, which has been beset by violent gangs and deep economic instability. The U.S. had wanted the Canadian Armed Forces to be part of an international force to help stabilize the country.

“We have had decades of failed military intervention in that country,” he said. “Unless you have a trusted local force that can act, that owns the security challenge, you are set up for failure.”

Gen. Eyre said the Canadian military has serious challenges in terms of hardware, equipment and recruitment, which will require a focus on three main areas: Europe, where Canadian troops are stationed in Latvia, the Indo-Pacific, to counter the threat from China, and North America, particularly the Arctic where Russia and China are major threats.

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