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Minister Blair concludes productive visit to Brussels for Ukraine Defense Contact Group meeting and NATO Defence Ministers’ meeting

The Honourable Bill Blair, Minister of National Defence, concluded a productive visit to Brussels, Belgium, where he participated in the 23rd Ukraine Defense Contact Group (UDCG) meeting and a meeting of North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Defence Ministers, including a meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Council in Defence Ministers format.

During the UDCG meeting on June 13 hosted by United States Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III, Minister Blair announced that Canada plans to send an initial tranche of 2,300 CRV7 rocket motors to Ukraine. He also announced that Canada will provide more than 130,000 surplus rounds of small arms ammunition and 29 Nanuk Remote Weapons Systems from surplus Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) inventory. The Minister also highlighted that the first four of fifty Armoured Combat Support Vehicles built by Canadian workers at General Dynamics Land Systems-Canada are departing London, Ontario this week.

Following the UDCG meeting, Minister Blair signed a Letter of Intent for the Armour Capability Coalition, formalizing Canada’s membership in the Coalition. Canada is also a member of the Drone Capability Coalition and Air Force Capability Coalition.

On June 13 and 14, Minister Blair participated in a meeting of NATO Defence Ministers ahead of next month’s NATO Leaders’ Summit in Washington. This meeting also marked Sweden’s first Defence Ministers’ Meeting as a full NATO Ally. Allies reaffirmed their commitment to NATO and discussed common defence priorities, including strengthening the Alliance’s deterrence and defence efforts and supporting Ukraine.

The Minister reiterated that Canada’s commitment to NATO is steadfast. Tomorrow, Canada will deploy His Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS) Charlottetown from Halifax, Nova Scotia, to join and assume leadership of Standing NATO Maritime Group 2 in the Mediterranean Sea. Over the next six months, HMCS Charlottetown will execute missions and participate in exercises with Allied warships.

On the margins of the Defence Ministers’ Meeting, Minister Blair and his Romanian counterpart, Defence Minister Angel Tîlvăr, signed a new Canada-Romania Defence Cooperation Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). The MOU will replace the existing Canada-Romania MOU on Bilateral Military Relations, signed by the two countries in 1993. The MOU will enable Canada and Romania to strengthen cooperation in areas including military education, training, and operations, defence research and technology, and mutual logistics support.

At NATO HQ in Brussels, Minister Blair also held productive meetings with:

  • Norway’s Minister of Defence, Bjørn Arild Gram, and Germany’s Minister of Defence, Boris Pistorius. The Ministers discussed ways for Canada, Norway, and Germany to strengthen their collaboration on common priorities.
  • Representatives of Estonia, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Minister Blair and his colleagues discussed the reinforcement of NATO’s eastern flank, where Canada, Germany, the United Kingdom and United States lead multinational NATO Battle Groups. The Minister highlighted Canada’s ongoing work to boost its presence in Latvia, including plans for the enhanced Forward Presence Brigade in Latvia to conduct its first Brigade exercise and NATO Combat Readiness Evaluation in Fall 2024.
  • Members of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group Drone Coalition. Minister Blair highlighted that the delivery of 900 Canadian-built drones for Ukraine will begin this month, with more deliveries to follow in the coming months, and noted Canada’s recent investment of $3 million to support the production of drones in Ukraine. Coalition members discussed work to finalize the Coalition Memorandum of Understanding, and ways of enhancing coordination between partner nations.

Minister Blair, along with several of his counterparts, also signed a Letter of Intent to reiterate their collective support for the Partnership for Peace Consortium of Defense Academies and Security Studies Institutes. This Letter of Intent reaffirms our commitment to strengthening educational partnerships pertaining to defence and security.

During this important moment for Euro-Atlantic security, Canada continues to work closely with NATO Allies to ensure the protection of all Canadians – and the one billion citizens that NATO protects.

“NATO is stronger and more united than ever before – and Canada’s commitment to the Alliance is steadfast. Over the past two days, we have made important progress to prepare for the Washington Summit – and advanced our work to provide Ukraine the tools that it needs to win.”

– The Honourable Bill Blair, Minister of National Defence

ADDITOINAL INFO

  • NATO is a cornerstone of Canada’s international security policy. Canada steadfastly supports NATO’s principle of collective defence and is providing direct support to NATO missions and operations to this end.
  • Current Canadian contributions to NATO include:
    • leading the NATO Multinational Battlegroup in Latvia as it scales up to a combat capable brigade;
    • deploying ships on a persistent basis to the NATO’s Standing Naval Forces – including HMCS Charlottetown, which is set to deploy tomorrow to lead Standing NATO Maritime Group 2;
    • continuing to support training and capacity building efforts in the Middle East under Operation IMPACT, including through NATO Mission Iraq; and
    • deploying personnel to Kosovo under Operation KOBOLD.
  • Since February 2022, Canada has committed over $14 billion in assistance to Ukraine, including $4 billion in military assistance. This includes Leopard 2 main battle tanks, armoured combat support vehicles, anti-tank weapons, small arms, M777 howitzers and associated ammunition, high-resolution drone cameras, winter clothing, and more. Canada is also contributing to multinational efforts to train pilots and maintain and support Ukraine’s F-16s.
  • Canada further contributes to Euro-Atlantic security through our support to Ukraine. Operation UNIFIER is the CAF’s military training and capacity building mission in support of the Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU). Since 2015, the CAF has trained over 41,000 members of the AFU under Operation UNIFIER. Approximately 300 CAF members are deployed under Operation UNIFIER in various roles, including to provide and coordinate training, and to facilitate and deliver military donations to Ukraine in coordination with Allies.
  • On 24 February 2024, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau signed the Agreement on security cooperation between Canada and Ukraine. The agreement outlines areas for enhanced bilateral cooperation related to defence, security, stability, and resilience.
  • Through Canada’s defence policy update, Our North, Strong and Free, Canada will spend an additional $8.1 billion over the next five years, and $73 billion over the next 20 years. With the investments in the policy and previously announced investments, Canada will have almost tripled its defence spending between 2014-15 and 2029-30.

 

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