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'A lot more people are going to die': Canada sending more lethal weapons to Ukraine

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In announcing the latest round of lethal aid Canada will be sending to Ukraine, the government cautioned of more bloodshed and “terrible nights ahead” as Russian President Vladimir Putin continues his attacks.

“It's worth it for all of us to remember how costly in terms of human lives, devastated families, cities, neighbourhoods, this war has already been. And there is every reason to believe it's going to get worse, and a lot more people are going to die… We as Canadians need to brace ourselves for that,” said Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland on Thursday during an announcement of wide-spanning new retaliatory measures.

“It's already been a bloodbath. I think it's going to become more of a bloodbath. I'm sure I'm not the only person who wakes up in the middle of the night just to check that Kyiv is still OK, that Kharkiv is still OK. And I think we have some terrible nights ahead.”

Since the outset of Putin’s latest invasion, the Russian regime has targeted civilian buildings and a key Ukrainian port has been seized, resulting in massive casualties and damage, while a large convoy of armoured vehicles remains positioned just outside of Kyiv.

Freeland was joined by Defence Minister Anita Anand for Thursday’s announcement, where Anand said that while Putin's attacks have “steadily intensified,” so too has Canada’s military support for Ukraine. The defence minister said that the government will “leave no stone unturned,” while saying that Canada still has no plans to send troops into combat in Ukraine.

There have been several rounds of announcements of support from Canada, ranging from sanctions to humanitarian support. In terms of what military lethal and non-lethal aid has been committed since Feb. 27, here’s a breakdown of what the federal government says has been sent or will soon be on its way:

  • 4,500 M72 rocket launchers and up to 7,500 hand grenades;
  • $1 million towards the purchase of high-resolution modern satellite imagery;
  • 100 Carl-Gustaf M2 anti-tank weapons system launchers and 2,000 rounds of ammunition;
  • 1,600 fragmentation vests and 400,000 individual meal packs;
  • $25 million in helmets, body armour, gas masks, and night vision gear; and
  • Two C-130J tactical airlift aircraft and a team of 40-50 personnel to deliver aid and support.

Asked about Canadians who may be looking to go to Ukraine to join their foreign legion, Anand said that the government is not facilitating this, but the Canadian Armed Forces is currently recruiting and would welcome applications. Anand also said that the military has trained over 33,000 Ukrainian soldiers since 2015, with 3,400 troops currently on high-readiness alert in Europe should NATO’s posture evolve.

Speaking to the experience of the Russian recruits who may not have voluntarily joined Putin’s attack, and have reportedly been facing low morale, limited supplies, and in some instances surrender, Freeland said she’s heard from Ukrainian officials about “how sorry they feel” for them.

“There's a real sense that some of them are very young, some of them didn't even know… they were going into a war, didn't even know that they would be fighting in Ukraine. And I feel so sorry for them. They've really been sent into a meat grinder to support one man's barbaric effort to undermine democracy,” Freeland said, adding that anyone fighting on the Russian side could be breaking international law. 

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