Canada to help train Ukrainians on F-16 fighter jets due to be flying by summer – National

by Pelican Press
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Canada to help train Ukrainians on F-16 fighter jets due to be flying by summer – National

Canada will help lead the training of Ukrainian fighter jet pilots on F-16s being delivered by NATO allies, which the U.S. expects will be flying by the summer.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the federal government will commit up to $389 million over the coming year to “enhance” the training, along with $500 million in additional military aid as part of NATO’s long-term pledge for Ukraine.

“The message is clear: we’re all here to support Ukraine until victory and beyond,” Trudeau told reporters in Washington on Thursday as NATO leaders wrapped up their annual summit.

Trudeau spoke about new support for Ukraine while laying out a timeline for when Canada will finally reach NATO’s target of spending at least two per cent of GDP on defence.

The prime minister met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Wednesday, where he pledged Canada’s ongoing support and unveiled the new aid commitments.

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Zelenskyy said in a social media post on X the two discussed “the possibility of additional training on Canadian flight simulators.”

I am grateful to @JustinTrudeau for announcing an additional assistance package to Ukraine worth CAD 500 million. This will strengthen our heroes on the battlefield.

Today, together with Canada’s Prime Minister, we discussed Ukraine’s defense needs and coordinated cooperation… pic.twitter.com/DntPrVGbVc

— Volodymyr Zelenskyy / Володимир Зеленський (@ZelenskyyUa) July 11, 2024

Trudeau was due to participate in a larger meeting on Ukraine later on Thursday, which will follow a bilateral meeting between Zelenskyy and U.S. President Joe Biden.

Ukraine was a top concern at the summit for the alliance, which has been supporting Kyiv in its fight against Russia’s full-scale invasion since it began nearly two-and-a-half years ago.

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While allies have stepped up their military aid during that time, Ukraine went into the summit seeking additional commitments on air defence and F-16 fighter jets that Zelenskyy says are desperately needed to counter Russia’s missile barrages and air strikes.

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The stakes of the war were underscored earlier this week as the summit opened, when Russian missiles killed at least 41 people and struck a children’s hospital in Kyiv, according to Ukrainian officials.

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On Wednesday, NATO agreed they will commit to providing at least 40 million Euros to Ukraine over the coming year.

Additionally, the U.S., the Netherlands and Denmark announced the first NATO-provided F-16s were on their way and would be flying this summer following months of preparation.

F-16s have been on Ukraine’s wish list for a long time because of their destructive power and global availability. The fighter jet is equipped with a 20mm cannon and can carry bombs, rockets and missiles.

Denmark has committed to donate 19 jets in total, while the Netherlands has promised to deliver 24 aircraft. Both countries have been driving forces behind an international coalition to supply Ukraine with F-16s.

Canada has provided civilian instructors and support staff to the Ukrainian pilot training effort. In February the government contributed $60 million to an allied initiative to source F-16 supplies and spare parts for future repairs, as well as ammunition and weapons stations.

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On Tuesday, through a joint statement, the U.S., Germany and Romania said they would provide Ukraine with Patriot batteries, while the Netherlands and others will provide Patriot components to make up one more battery and Italy will provide a SAMP-T air defence system.

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Biden on Thursday announced a new US$225 million aid package for Ukraine, including an additional Patriot missile system.

Other allies, including Canada, Norway, Spain and the United Kingdom, will provide a number of other systems that will help Ukraine expand its coverage, Tuesday’s joint statement said. Those systems include NASAMS, HAWKs, IRIS T-SLM, IRIS T-SLS and Gepards. And other nations have agreed to provide munitions for those systems.

Asked about Canada’s specific air defence contributions, a defence department spokesperson pointed Global News to a number of past announcements, including the roughly $500-billion purchase of a NASAMS from the United States that was first announced in January 2023. The system is still being produced in the U.S. and there is no firm timeline on when it will be delivered to Ukraine.

Canada has also committed $76 million to a German-led fund for additional air defence systems, as well as $33 million to a British-led air defence equipment partnership.

Ottawa has provided over $4 billion in military aid to Ukraine since the war with Russia began.

Click to play video: 'NATO working to prepare Ukraine for future membership in the alliance: Stoltenberg'

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NATO working to prepare Ukraine for future membership in the alliance: Stoltenberg

NATO’s joint declaration released Wednesday also said Ukraine is on an “irreversible” path to NATO membership, but did not commit to a timeline for Ukraine to officially join the alliance.

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“Ukraine’s future is in NATO,” according to the communique.

The alliance welcomed Ukraine’s democratic, economic and security reforms needed to join and said it would get an invitation “when Allies agree and conditions are met.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin has long bitterly opposed Ukraine’s fight to join the Western alliance, declaring it an encroachment on Russia’s security and interests.

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.

&copy 2024 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.




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