Canada commits an extra $500M in military assistance as NATO rallies around Ukraine

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Canada plans to commit an additional $500 million in military assistance to Ukraine this year, the federal government said on the sidelines of the NATO Summit.

The announcement, late Wednesday, capped a day where the 32-member alliance clearly felt the political pressure of a war going badly.

NATO delivered long-sought commitments and reassurance, stating in its official declaration the Eastern European country is on an “irreversible” path to membership.

The additional money, on top of the projected $4 billion in arms and munitions Canada has already pledged and donated, came following a bilateral meeting between Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy at the Washington summit.

The majority of the funding will go toward a NATO-led, 40-billion euro initiative that aims to provide the war-ravaged country with steady financing and predictable military support.

WATCH | Ukrainian Canadian Congress president says military aid package welcome news, but Ukraine needs more support:

NATO package ‘hopefully the beginning of more aid more quickly’: advocate

The NATO alliance has committed to long-term continued support for Ukraine through a $43 billion US military aid package. President of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress Alexandra Chyczij says the package is welcome news, but Ukraine needs more support from allies at a faster rate.

At the same, Canada said it would expand its training of Ukrainian pilots who are learning to fly western warplanes.

The federal government had previously committed tens of millions toward the training, but a senior federal official, speaking on background Wednesday, said Canada will play a more active role in the instruction, some of which has been spearheaded by the private sector.

Last winter, Defence Minister Bill Blair — in two separate announcements — committed $75 million, $15 million of which went to pay for civilian pilot instructors from Montreal-based Top Aces Inc.

The U.S., the Netherlands and Denmark announced Wednesday that the first NATO-provided F-16s would be in the hands of Ukrainian military pilots by this summer.

Canada does not operate the U.S.-manufactured warplane, but they are used by Top Aces, a private company that offers a wide range of fighter jet instruction.

Zelenskyy posted on X about his appreciation of the effort to strengthen his air force, coming soon after Ukraine saw one of the deadliest strikes of the war.

Allies wrestled behind closed doors for weeks on the language of the overall summit declaration when it came to Ukraine and its eventual membership.

The U.S. and some other countries have opposed membership for Ukraine during the conflict with Russia to avoid an escalation of tensions that could lead to a larger war. They also have stressed that Ukraine must take significant steps to address corruption as well as other systemic reforms.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg underlined that Ukraine will not join the alliance’s ranks immediately. But he insisted that must happen after the war is over to ensure that Russia never attacks Ukraine again.

Of the overall NATO assistance, he said, “We are not doing this because we want to prolong a war. We are doing it because we want to end a war as soon as possible.”

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