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Canada pitches in $76 million for 'faster' German air-defence systems in Ukraine

Germany’s Minister of Defence Boris Pistorius (left) and Minister of National Defence Bill Blair take part in a joint news conference. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press) Germany’s Minister of Defence Boris Pistorius (left) and Minister of National Defence Bill Blair take part in a joint news conference. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)
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Canada is putting $76 million towards a German-led effort to help Ukraine defend itself from Russian missiles and aircraft, Defence Minister Bill Blair announced Friday, with no timeline in sight for when a system already purchased from the U.S. will be ready. 

"Germany is able to get real value for our dollars in support of Ukraine by making sure that they not only get what they want, but they get it faster," Blair said at a news conference.

Blair spoke alongside his German counterpart, Boris Pistorius, who said allies are unwavering in opposing Moscow's full-scale invasion of Ukraine, which started in February 2022 after a decade of contained fighting.

"With this contribution, Canada clearly shows its resolute commitment to a rules-based international order and to the values that also guide us in the transatlantic alliance," Pistorius said.

In January 2023, Canada spent $400 million to send an American air-defence system to Ukraine, which Blair says is still being manufactured. 

He didn't provide a timeline when asked when it will be ready. 

"That work is underway; production is taking place," he said. "We're all working as hard as and as fast as possible to deliver what Ukraine needs."

Pistorius also said Friday he had presented a letter from Germany and Norway with a proposal. "Let us initiate a trilateral strategic maritime partnership, with a focus on securing sea lines of communication through the North Atlantic and Arctic. This can become a political route for many joint activities."

Pistorius had no complaints about Canada's persistent lack of a plan to meet the defence spending target it committed to years ago as part of the NATO alliance, which is two per cent of gross domestic product.

Instead, Pistorius said Germany can rely on an "absolutely fantastic and reliable" Canada, and he noted both countries are trying to recruit soldiers while boosting funding and production capacity.

"There is no reason at all for me to complain about Canada's engagement. The opposite is the case," he said. "We have all the same challenges in our domestic politics."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 10, 2024

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