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Trudeau noncommittal on Ukraine’s call for armour as allies announce tank donations

A military tank with 6 soldiers on top.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Wednesday his government will provide more support to Ukraine but declined to join allies in announcing a donation of German-made tanks to fend off Russian forces.

One military expert says Germany’s announcement that it’s sending Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine will put pressure on Trudeau to follow suit.

“We will continue to be there to give whatever support we can to Ukraine,” Trudeau said. “I won’t be making an announcement today but I can tell you we’re looking very, very closely at what more we can do to support Ukraine.”

Trudeau made the remarks in Hamilton, Ont., where he is attending a cabinet retreat in advance of the return of Parliament.

For weeks, Ukraine has been asking its allies to supply it with up to 300 German-made Leopard 2 battle tanks. Several allies have those tanks in their inventories but were unable to donate them until Germany gave its approval for the vehicles to be transferred to a third party.

Earlier Wednesday, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz announced that his country would provide Ukraine with 14 Leopard 2 tanks from his own military.

German Defence Minister Boris Pistorius said that Germany advised several allies of its plan ahead of the announcement, including Canada.

“Germany will always be at the forefront when it comes to supporting Ukraine,” Scholz said later in an address to lawmakers in the German federal parliament.

Allies step up

Germany made the announcement on the same day U.S. President Joe Biden told reporters in Washington that the United States will send 31 M1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine.

Germany, which was reluctant to incur Russia’s wrath alone by sending tanks, had said the Leopards would not be sent unless the U.S. put its Abrams on the table.

The U.K. announced last week that it would send 14 Challenger 2 tanks to Ukraine. 

Reuters reported Wednesday that Norway’s defence minister announced his country also would donate Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine, joining Poland, Finland, Spain and the Netherlands.

One of the old Soviet tanks Ukrainian soldiers are currently using in the field, at a military training area near Zaporizhzhia. (Stephanie Jenzer/CBC News )

Walter Dorn, a professor of defence studies at the Royal Military College, said the donations announced by other countries will put pressure on Canada to do the same.

“I think there will be pressure from the United States for Canada to pony up on the Leopard-2 tanks, because Leopard-2s will be the mainstay of the Ukrainian tank forces,”…

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