Canada is sending another shipment of non-lethal equipment to Ukraine and will provide training, during that country's conflict with pro-Russian separatists.
Defence Minister Rob Nicholson made the announcement at a news conference this morning in Ottawa, along with his parliamentary secretary, James Bezan, and Ukrainian Ambassador to Canada Vadym Prystaiko.
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The $11 million will be used for equipment and training, including:
- $5 million for protective gear, including surplus Canadian Forces cold-weather gear such as jackets, hats and gloves.
- $3 million for explosives disposal equipment.
- $1 million for communications equipment.
- $1 million for night and thermal vision equipment, plus binoculars.
- $1 million for medical training, including a mobile field hospital.
Nicholson said the latest shipment is a direct response to a request from the Ukrainian defence minister.
"This is a substantial contribution, this is equipment that Ukraine has specifically asked for and it's equipment Ukraine urgently needs to face the continued aggression from the Putin regime," Nicholson said.
The first shipment of clothing, which Nicholson said will dress about 30,000 Ukrainian military personnel, will leave CFB Trenton by plane on Thursday and is expected to arrive on Friday.
Other equipment is being sent by sea in early 2015.
Ambassador: past shipments 'saved so many lives'
Canada has already sent $55 million in aid, training and election monitoring to Ukraine during its fight with pro-Russian separatists, along with non-lethal military aid such as protective vests, helmets and goggles.
It is also participating in NATO exercises and training in the area.
On Wednesday, Prystaiko thanked Nicholson, saying their two countries have a "deep and strong" friendship.
"I was privileged to be at the Trenton air base before, when the previous sets of equipment were sent to Ukraine. I have to tell you, it saved so many lives," he said.
Prystaiko said earlier this month that Canada and other western countries are losing interest in the Ukrainian conflict compared to the fight against ISIS in Iraq.
The conflict between pro-Russian rebels and government troops has caused more than 4,000 deaths.
No direct request for 'lethal' equipment
During a question and answer period after the announcement, Nicholson and Prystaiko were asked about whether Canada would send so-called "lethal" support to Ukraine, such as tanks.
Prystaiko said there is a request out to NATO for lethal equipment, but what they're getting right now is "very important" and a step up from past support.
Nicholson was non-committal and said Canada will continue to work with its allies.
Both addressed potential future Ukrainian involvement in NATO, as Nicholson said they haven't had discussions but Canada is supportive of current applications by countries such as Georgia and Montenegro.
Prystaiko said Ukraine is focused on getting its military and other aspects of its society up to NATO standards, as was suggested in 2008 when they were attempting to become a member,
Nicholson also said he wouldn't speculate on future bombing missions against ISIS in Syria, saying Canada's focus is on Iraq.