Canada’s Conservatives urge arms delivery to Ukraine

Canada’s Conservatives have called on the country’s government to give Ukraine weaponry originally destined for Kurdish forces in Iraq, according to a report.

The Conservative Party of Canada, led by Andrew Scheer, wants the federal government to give Ukraine 9.5 million Canadian dollars worth of military equipment originally intended to help Kurdish forces in their fight against Islamic militants in Iraq, Canada’s North Shore News media outlet has reported.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government in Canada announced last year that it would give the Kurds weapons—including rifles, machine guns, light mortars, grenade launchers and anti-tank missiles—as part of efforts to eradicate the so-called Islamic State, according to the nsnews.com website.

But for reasons including delays in paperwork and in ensuring adequate safeguards, those weapons remain in storage at a depot in Montreal, North Shore News reported on its website.

The country’s Conservatives have said that a Scheer government would send those arms to Ukraine instead, nsnews.com reported.

It quoted Conservative defence critic James Bezan as saying that the weapons should not allowed to “sit in storage and collect dust” at a time when “the violence in Ukraine has taken on a new spring offensive.”

“Instead of letting those weapons go to waste, let’s get them in the hands of people that can use them,” Bezan said, as quoted by nsnews.com.

Since Russia invaded and annexed the Crimean peninsula in 2014, Ukraine has been at war with Russian-backed rebels in its eastern Donbass region, nsnews.com reported.

The government in Kyiv has asked Canada to provide it with defensive weaponry, as the United States has done, nsnews.com said, but added the Trudeau government has been non-committal.

The US State Department in late April confirmed a delivery of American-made anti-tank missile systems to Ukraine amid a four-year-old conflict that has seen Russia-backed separatists battling Ukrainian troops, according to a report.

The US permanent representative to NATO was earlier in April reported as saying that the United States wanted to see Ukraine become a member of NATO in the future.

Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in March 2014 after a referendum that the Ukrainian authorities and the West said was illegal. Earlier, Russian soldiers in unmarked uniforms seized strategic facilities on the peninsula from the Ukrainian army and local authorities.

Poland’s foreign ministry said in March that the presidential elections held in Crimea by the Russian authorities could not be recognised because Crimea was part of Ukraine.

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