Ukrainian MPs ask Canada to provide money for weapons to fight Russia

Ukrainian legislators are asking Canada to give their country the money it needs to buy heavy military weaponry, warning the only way to secure peace with Russia is by defeating it on the battlefield.

Five Ukrainian parliamentarians issued their appeal after meeting in person with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and other government officials in a desperate bid to secure more support for their besieged nation.

The delegation dismissed the prospects for a negotiated peace as another failed attempt to rescue civilians from the city of Mariupol and an explosion at a Russian fuel depot Friday threatened to undermine the latest round of talks.

The Ukrainian legislators instead listed three priority areas in which they said Ukraine needs more help: further sanctions on Russia, financial assistance Γüá– and more weapons.

“The only way to get real negotiations with Russia is to achieve military superiority on the ground,” said delegation member Anastasia Radina.

“Ukraine has to win the war to keep Russian soldiers out of our lands. This is our only option. In order to do that, what Ukraine needs is lethal weaponry. Heavy weaponry.”

Ukraine has given a “comprehensive” list of urgently needed military hardware to Canada, Radina added, which includes tanks and anti-aircraft systems.

“We cannot do this with rifles, we have to have heavy weapons to kick Russians from our territory,” said fellow delegation member Yevheniya Kravchuk.

“Because if we talk about the end of this war, we mean winning in this war because other than that, (Russian President Vladimir) Putin will not stop.”

Canada has sent several tranches of military equipment to Ukraine, including anti-tank weapons, since Russian forces first attacked in late February.

But Defence Minister Anita Anand has said the Canadian Armed Forces’ stockpile of available equipment is now tapped out. She and Trudeau have said the government is instead looking at buying off-the-shelf weapons for Ukraine.

The Ukrainian delegation said it is possible to buy needed weapons from European countries, which is why they are asking the Liberal government to provide money for that purpose in next week’s federal budget.

“On funds to purchase weapons, this is one of the requests we made,” Radina said. “And I hope we delivered the sense of urgency of this request.”

The delegation warned about delays caused by “bureaucratic decision-making,” saying weapons are needed immediately.

The legislators also asked that Canada provide direct financial assistance to the government in Kyiv, which they say is struggling to make ends meet due to the economic damage caused by Russia’s invasion.

The International Monetary Fund released US$1.4 billion in emergency funds to Ukraine last month to address the “substantial” economic damage caused by the war, which has killed thousands of soldiers and civilians.

“We are looking not only for support from the International Monetary Fund, but we are looking for direct financing to our state budget,” said delegation chair Ivanna Klympush-Tsintsadze.

The Ukrainian legislators said they delivered their appeal in a meeting on Thursday with Trudeau and Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland, who is also Canada’s finance minister and of Ukrainian descent.

“We are inspired by the brave people of Ukraine, and their tremendous fight against Putin’s barbaric invasion,” Freeland’s spokeswoman Adrienne Vaupshas said in a statement.

“As we have said since the beginning of this war, all options are on the table to ensure Russia’s invasion of Ukraine will fail.”

On Friday, Trudeau heard from cabinet ministers and senior government officials during a meeting of the “incident response group” to discuss the war in Ukraine.

“The prime minister and ministers discussed the humanitarian, financial, and military aid that Canada has provided to Ukraine to date, and explored options to further respond to Ukraine’s evolving needs in the face of Russia’s ongoing aggression,” the Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement about the meeting.

Kravchuk told reporters that an air raid siren sounded on her phone during the delegation’s meeting with the prime minister.

“That meant that in the neighbourhood where my eight-year-old daughter resides, there was an attempted air attack and my daughter had to go into the basement instead of go to school,” she said.

At least 148 children have been killed in Ukraine since the start of Russia’s invasion, she said, adding the actual number is likely much higher.

Delegates also accused Putin, the Russian government and military of perpetrating war crimes, and thanked Canada for asking the International Criminal Court to investigate.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 1, 2022.

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