OTTAWA — Canada joined two other NATO allies on Thursday by confirming it would donate four Leopard 2 battle tanks to forces in eastern Ukraine.
Defence Minister Anita Anand announced plans at a press conference on Parliament Hill alongside Chief of the Defence Staff Gen. Wayne Eyre.
“This donation … will significantly help the armed forces of Ukraine as they fight heroically to defend their nation’s freedom and sovereignty,” Anand told reporters.
“These tanks will allow Ukraine to liberate even more of its territory and defend its people from Russia’s brutal invasion.”
The move comes after weeks of hesitation from western allies and just one day after the United States confirmed their plans to send tanks to Ukraine.
Anand said Canada will also provide ammunition and spare parts and deploy Canadian soldiers to train the Ukrainian Army on how to use the tanks.
The four tanks come from Canada’s current inventory of 82 Leopard 2s, which Anand said was “carefully considered” to ensure Canadian soldiers can still train and meet NATO requirements.
Most of Canada’s Leopards are divided between two squadrons at Canadian Forces Base Edmonton in Alberta and a third at Canadian Forces Base Gagetown in New Brunswick.
Eyre said the military used the donated tanks for training, but they are combat-ready.
“That will allow us to have interoperability of training, of spare parts and ammunition,” he said.
Eyre added the tanks will be flown to Europe in the coming weeks.