KIEV: A massive Canadian transport plane arrived here carrying US$4.5 million worth of non-lethal military equipment to help Ukraine “protect its eastern border against Russian aggression.”
The equipment includes “helmets, ballistic eyewear, protective vests, first aid kits, tents, and sleeping bags,” Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said in a statement on Thursday.
Canada said it received the request from the Ukrainian government. “Ukraine has asked for this and once again we are delivering,” Defence Minister Rob Nicholson Nicholson said at the Canadian Forces Base in Trenton.
The flight marks the first in a series, and all of the items will be delivered by the CC-130J Hercules plane. Canadian military personnel accompanied the equipment to Ukraine.
The technology provided will “allow Ukrainian security and border authorities to better detect and track the movement of illicit goods and people,” according to Harper.
The news comes after Russia banned the imports of fruit, vegetables, meat, fish, and dairy products from the 28 countries of the EU, the US, Canada, Norway, and Australia for one year.
Russia’s ban is set to cost Canadian pork farmers more than $500 million. But the Canadian government is continuing its current stance on the matter. “We will not be intimidated by these kinds of tactics,” Canadian Industry Minister James Moore said.
On Thursday, NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen pledged that NATO will work with Ukraine on defense planning, as well as on how to reform its armed forces and institutions.
He also announced that NATO is planning joint exercises with Ukraine. The comments were made during a press conference in Kiev.
Rasmussen also mentioned that Russia has amassed 20,000 troops near the border and could be planning a ground invasion of its neighbor, mentioning that Russia “should not use peace-keeping as an excuse for war-making.”
In response, Moscow slammed NATO’s claims, calling them unsubstantiated.
“In Russia’s Ministry of Defense such statements only raise sympathy for the speakers of the Pentagon, the US State Department and NATO. It seems the people are serious, but they have to constantly improvise during their speeches to somehow add seriousness to their statements,” Ministry of Defense spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov said.