June 20th, 2024

Canada sending four more battle tanks, ammo to Ukraine as rallies held across Canada

By Mickey Djuric, The Canadian Press on February 24, 2023.

People take part in a rally in support of the Ukraine and against the Russian invasion, in Edmonton on Sunday February 27, 2022. From coast to coast, thousands of Canadians are expected to take part today in a series of rallies in support of Ukraine on the one-year anniversary of Russia's invasion. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson

OTTAWA – As Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced more weapons for Ukraine on Friday, rallies were taking place around the country marking 365 days of death and violence since Russia’s invasion began.

Canada will donate four additional Leopard 2 main battle tanks to support the Armed Forces of Ukraine, growing Canada’s contribution to eight tanks in total, Trudeau said.

It will also donate an armoured recovery vehicle and more than 5,000 rounds of ammunition.

New sanctions are also being imposed on nearly 200 more people and entities that Trudeau said are complicit in Russia’s ongoing war with Ukraine.

That includes Russian deputy prime ministers, ministers, members of the Russian military, and producers of artilleries and weapons used in Ukraine. It also includes others who have voted in favour of legislation related to the invasion and attempted annexation of the Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson regions.

Canada also announced it will ban certain chemicals used in the manufacturing of electronics from being exported to Russia.

The added support is on top of the $5 billion Canada has pledged already to help Ukraine following Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to invade one year ago.

“He is cowardly and he is weak. His brazen disregard for human life, his irresponsible rhetoric, and his willingness to inflict terrible violence on innocent people may seem to have no limits,” Trudeau said Friday at a press conference in Toronto marking the one-year anniversary.

“But what is truly without limits is the courage and resolve of those who fight every day for their freedom.”

Meanwhile, just hours after Ottawa announced the added armaments, thousands of Canadians took part in a series of rallies and vigils alongside Ukrainians displaced by the war.

Spearheaded by the Ukrainian Canadian Congress, some 40 “Stand With Ukraine” events had been planned for major cities across the country, from St.John’s to Whitehorse. Many of them were to be candlelight vigils in the early evening.

During a rally in Halifax, word of the added tanks drew a loud round of applause and cries of “Glory to Ukraine,” from a crowd of about 200 gathered on the city’s central square next to City Hall.

Organizers arranged a pattern of tealight candles to create the emblem of Ukraine, and those attending sang the national anthems of both nations.

Seventeen-year-old Polina Kozlova, a refugee who escaped from the city of Kherson after it was occupied, said she came to the ceremony to remember Ukrainians who have died – and to show solidarity with her homeland, where her parents and brother still live.

“Despite the fact it’s really cold today I feel warm in my heart and my soul because I’m with my people and I’m hearing my native language and songs, and I feel the support of our nation,” she said.

In a news conference Friday in Kyiv, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy told reporters more weapons will allow Ukrainian people to regain their territory.

“We’re getting ready. We’re ready in spirit. And we’re getting ready as far as weapons are concerned, as far as forming attack brigades are concerned,” Zelenskyy said through a translator.

He praised those who have shown up for Ukraine, including people who covered parts of the world in yellow and blue – the colours of Ukraine’s national flag.

The yearlong conflict has taken a deadly toll on the Ukrainian population, with tens of thousands of civilians killed and millions more displaced.

Since 2015, the Canadian Armed Forces has helped train over 35,000 Ukrainian troops, said Defence Minister Anita Anand, including recent training on how to use the tanks Canada has sent.

With weapons and training from NATO nations and other allies, Ukraine’s military has been able to regain thousands of square kilometres of territory.

It’s not just their territory they’re fighting for, but democracy itself, Anand said.

“For every bomb, missile and mercenary Vladimir Putin has dropped down, we have seen the Ukrainian spirit rise up,” she said.

– With files from Michael Tutton in Halifax.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 24, 2023.

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