Canada to buy $406M worth of surface to air missile systems for Ukraine
The Canadian PressGeneral Defense
Plan prompts questions as to why such equipment isn’t being procured for Canadian Army.
OTTAWA – Canada is buying a U.S. surface-to-air missile system for Ukraine nearly a year after Russia’s invasion of the country began. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau informed U.S. President Joe Biden of the purchase on the sidelines of the North American Leaders’ Summit in Mexico City on Tuesday.
Trudeau’s office said the move would involve buying an American-made National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile System.
Defence Minister Anita Anand’s office said it will cost $406 million, and is “the firstCanadian donation of an air-defence system to Ukraine.” The money stems from the $500 million Trudeau announced in military aid for Ukraine last November during the G20 summit in Indonesia.
The decision to send this type of equipment comes in response to intensified Russian air raids on cities, military sites and critical infrastructure such as power stations. Surface-to-air missile systems can protect against drone, missile and aircraft attacks “with a high success rate,” Anand’s office said in a news release.
However, the federal government’s plan is prompting questions about why such equipment isn’t being bought for the Canadian Army. The Army has been without weapons to defend Canadian troops from enemy aircraft, rockets and drones since the last of its anti-air weapons were retired in 2012.
Efforts to acquire new ones have remained stuck in neutral for years despite numerous army commanders emphasizing the need for them.
Former Liberal MP and retired Army commander Andrew Leslie says he supports the government’s decision to buy an American-made surface-to-air missile system for Ukraine.
But he and other former Army officers say Ottawa should be doing the same thing for the Canadian military to address a critical deficiency in its defensive capabilities.
Defence Minister Anita Anand’s office would not explain why the government is buying a system for Ukraine but not the Canadian military.