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Defence minister in Victoria, announces $98M in artillery rounds for Ukraine

Canada will donate more than 20,000 artillery rounds at a cost of about $98 million to support Ukraine’s response to the Russian invasion, National Defence Minister Anita Anand announced in Victoria on Tuesday.

Canada will donate more than 20,000 artillery rounds at a cost of about $98 million to support Ukraine’s response to the Russian invasion, National Defence Minister Anita Anand announced in Victoria on Tuesday.

“These rounds are compatible with artillery guns provided by Canada and our allies, including the M777 howitzers that we have donated and which will be crucial in Ukraine’s current fight to defend its eastern territory — work is already underway to deliver this aid to Ukraine as quickly as possible,” said Anand, who toured the Ukrainian Cultural Centre at 3277 Douglas St. prior to the announcement.

The 155 mm NATO standard ammunition will be sourced from the United States.

Canada has supplied Ukraine with small arms, specialized equipment such as cameras for military drones, armoured vehicles and heavy artillery guns, and trained Ukrainian forces in the use of the artillery guns.

“We are working around the clock to identify and provide even more military aid to Ukraine with the $500 million that we announced in Budget 2022 for this purpose,” Anand said.

The U.S. announced Monday that about 20 countries have pledged new security-assistance packages for Ukraine, including new anti-ship missiles, additional attack helicopters and tanks, according to the Washington Post.

Forty-seven nations have now joined the Ukraine Defense Contact Group, which was organized by the Pentagon to help address Ukraine’s immediate and long-term needs as it seeks to beat back the Russian military’s protracted invasion, it said.

Anand said the added military aid announced in Victoria on Tuesday signifies Canada’s commitment to providing Ukraine with the military aid it needs to defend its sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence. “Canada stands with Ukraine and its people as they resist Putin’s illegal and unjustifiable assault,” she said.

Attending the announcement was Stan Osobik, who moved to Victoria with his wife and three children from Ukraine about 15 years ago and says Ukrainians throughout the world have always been appreciative of Canada’s strong support of Ukraine’s democracy.

But Osobik said the military aid donated by Canada so far to help Ukraine defend its right to exist is “really a drop in the bucket.” “It’s a major military campaign of the 21st century and it’s a major war against a major superpower and thousands of people are dying daily, get wounded daily.

“It’s not like the Ukrainians don’t appreciate [it] — they’re just asking that maybe there could be more done to help Ukrainians survive.”

Anand told the Times Colonist that Canada and Ukraine are close partners and allies, and the prime minister and Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky speak frequently — as do Anand and her counterpart Minister Oleksiy Reznikov — about what military aid is needed.

“Just a few weeks ago in Kyiv, the prime minister announced an additional $50 million in military assistance for Ukraine, including additional drone cameras, small arms, satellite imagery and M777 ammunition, and this adds to the over $130 million in military aid that we have already committed.”

In recent weeks, about 300 Ukrainians fleeing the war have arrived on Vancouver Island.

Devon Sereda Goldie, president of Victoria’s Ukrainian Cultural Centre and Ukrainian Canadian Congress Victoria, said the community has opened their homes to people coming from Ukraine and they are grateful, but two-week hotel stays and stipends promised by the federal government have yet to materialize.

Most Ukrainians arrive in Victoria with little in the way of financial resources, she said, and yet must pay $300 to $400 for mandatory medical exams, including X-rays and blood work — $1,200 to $1,600 for a family of four.

Settlement agencies that would normally help newcomers with English classes and other settlement services have yet to receive any of the federal funding promised in March, she said.

The volunteer-run, non-profit Ukrainian Cultural Centre is hosting fundraisers and accepting donations from the community to cover costs for the newcomers, and received $100,000 from the Times Colonist Christmas Fund. Thus far, however, it has received “zero dollars in government funding,” Sereda Goldie said.

Anand said the federal government is working hard to ensure that Ukrainian refugees have the resources that they need.

Sereda Goldie said all she can do is keep connecting with the federal government and “hope for the best” that the funding is on its way.

ceharnett@timescolonist.com