April 23rd, 2024

Canada has asked Ukraine how it can help amid delay in air-defence system, Blair says

By Laura Osman, The Canadian Press on February 25, 2024.

Ukrainians and Poles march with a giant Ukrainian flag in protest of Russia's military aggression against Ukraine on the second anniversary of the war, in front of the Russian Embassy in Warsaw, Poland, Saturday Feb. 24, 2024. (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski)

WARSAW, Poland – Defence Minister Bill Blair says Canada has asked the Ukrainian government how it can help, while its donation of an air-defence system faces indefinite delays.

Blair and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland spoke to reporters on Sunday at a Polish military training centre where members of the Canadian Armed Forces are training Ukrainian military personnel.

The minister was asked for an update on the delivery of an air-defence system Canada pledged to donate more than a year ago.

In response, Blair said he did not have a timeline yet and that Canada is looking for other ways to help.

“The questions we’ve asked (Ukraine) is what can we get to you, because the need is urgent and we are prepared to be flexible in delivering to Ukraine what Ukraine needs,” Blair said.

Canada announced the donation of a national advanced surface-to-air missile system, known as NASAMS, in January 2023. It paid the US$406 million for it last March.

Their visit to the Polish military base follows an unannounced visit by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to Ukraine on Saturday to show solidarity with the embattled country, where he pledged more military and financial aid and long-term support.

The Polish government wants to make sure Canada and other allies stay engaged in the war raging on the other side of its border for the last two years, Canada’s ambassador to the country said on the anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Catherine Godin said the war presents a real and present threat to the people of Poland.

Godin said Poland and Canada have worked together closely on military efforts to train troops and deliver aid.

She said Poland has also expressed appreciation for Canada’s role in guarding NATO’s eastern flank in Latvia.

But with reports of support for Ukraine waning in other western countries, Godin said Poland wants to make sure other countries continue to take the war seriously.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 25, 2024.

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