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Canada's Defence Minister Anita Anand speaks during a news conference with U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin following their meeting at the Pentagon, Thursday, April 28, 2022, in Washington.Manuel Balce Ceneta/The Associated Press

Defence Minister Anita Anand is vowing Canada will give Ukraine more “lethal and non-lethal” aid in what she says is shaping up to be a lengthy war.

In her first visit to the Pentagon since taking over the portfolio last year, Ms. Anand sought, with U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, to reinforce Western unity against Russia’s two month-old Ukraine invasion.

“We are actively looking at what additional aid Canada can provide, including in the near future,” she told Mr. Austin at the start of an hour-long meeting in a Pentagon conference room Thursday. “We will continue to supply Ukraine with the equipment that it needs to fight and win.”

“It goes without saying … we don’t have a better friend than Canada,” Mr. Austin said.

Canada last week announced that it had given four M-777 howitzers from its own arsenal to Ukraine, and also is working on buying eight armoured non-combat vehicles to send to the country.

Ms. Anand said Thursday that Canadian troops would instruct their Ukrainian counterparts on how to use the artillery pieces. She gave no public details on what other aid she was considering sending.

“We also agree with President [Joe] Biden that this may be a very long war,” she told a media briefing after the meeting. “We have to be with our partners and allies to deliver lethal and non-lethal military aide to Ukraine. That’s a priority for our government.”

Mr. Biden earlier in the day asked Congress to approve a US$33-billion aid package to Ukraine, which includes military assistance, economic support and humanitarian funding. The money would be more than double the U.S.’s previous US$13.6-billion package for Kyiv, and signals that Washington is digging in for a lengthy war. The U.S. has previously supplied Ukraine with thousands of anti-tank weapons, anti-aircraft missiles and other weapons.

Mr. Austin urged Congress to pass the latest spending request as the war enters a new phase, in which Russia is trying to tear away Ukraine’s eastern and southern regions after failing to capture Kyiv. Ukraine has specifically requested longer-range weapons.

“What will be decisive in this next fight is long-range fires,” Mr. Austin said. “We are moving as quickly as possible to provide them those capabilities.

He also praised Canada’s contribution of eight vehicles and four howitzers. “That’s just what we’ve come to expect from Canada, and from your own leadership and moral purpose,” he said at the news conference with Ms. Anand.

In addition to Ukraine, the pair also discussed the modernization of NORAD, countering the rise of China and fighting drug trafficking in Latin America.

Mr. Austin said he and Ms. Anand had already built a strong rapport, including at a meeting of Ukraine’s allies Tuesday at the U.S. airbase in Ramstein, Germany.

He greeted her Thursday afternoon on the steps of the Pentagon with an honour guard and a marching band that played O, Canada and The Star-Spangled Banner.

“She’s pretty tough,” Mr. Austin said jokingly of Ms. Anand at the end of news conference. “She’ll kick me in the shins if I don’t keep her on time.”

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