Hillier asks Ottawa to help Ukraine

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OTTAWA — Retired General Rick Hillier laments what he sees as a decline in Canadian interest in the war in Ukraine as public and political attention increasingly turns to rising inflation. and other problems closer to home.

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But Canada’s former defense chief who was the face of that country’s military mission in Afghanistan for years warns that even greater economic hardship is in store if Canada and its allies do not step up their support for Ukraine and do not stop Russia.

This includes the rapid delivery of hundreds of millions of dollars in Canadian military aid that the federal Liberal government pledged in April, only a fraction of which has been delivered.

« Just imagine what would happen if Russia broke through and took Ukraine, dramatically changed the flow of oil and gas, changed the flow of wheat to Africa, to the Black Sea ports, » he said. he stated in an interview.

« The involvement will be double, triple or quadruple what we’re seeing right now. It’s right to do more as a nation and we can afford to do more. But secondly, do the because the economic implications of not doing so are also brutal for us.

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Rick Hillier, Canada's former Chief of the Defense Staff, is pictured in Calgary in June 2007.
Rick Hillier, Canada’s former Chief of the Defense Staff, is pictured in Calgary in June 2007. Photo by Toronto Sun Files /Toronto Sun

Hillier was speaking in his role as the new head of an advisory council of retired military commanders organized by the Ukrainian World Congress, a Ukrainian diaspora advocacy group.

The UWC has run a campaign called Unite With Ukraine which seeks to raise funds to buy non-lethal military equipment for the country’s Territorial Defense Force, which is made up of volunteers – including foreigners – fighting the Russian invasion.

Canada has been a staunch supporter of the Ukrainian military since the first attack by Russian forces in late February, with the Liberal government pledging $500 million in military aid in the April federal budget.

The government says it has since provided more than $150 million in aid, including millions in the form of artillery shells, drones and satellite imagery. These are in addition to the supply of four artillery guns and several armored vehicles.

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Earlier this week, Defense Minister Anita Anand called the purchase of drone cameras for the Ukrainian military one of many recent successes in military procurement, saying the government « concluded a contract in a few days ».

But Hillier says there must be a greater sense of urgency as Russia, after its early mistakes on the battlefield, has begun to deploy more of its military capabilities in a way the Ukrainians are struggling. to counter.

« They’ve committed half a billion dollars and I’d like to see that money spent very efficiently, with things being delivered to the Ukrainian Defense Forces literally right now, and not going through a procurement process, » he said. he declared.

« Let’s get them what they need now. »

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Hillier repeated some of his past calls for Canada to send some of the hundreds of light armored vehicles that form the backbone of the Canadian Army’s mechanized power, as well as dozens of tanks.

At the same time, he feared that the war in Ukraine was falling on the priority list of Canadians as they face increased pressure on their wallets due to rising fuel and food prices as well as than mortgage rates.

« I’ve watched a variety of national news shows over the past few days and several weeks and Ukraine is barely mentioned, let alone what’s going on there, » he said. « And people worry about their ability to put food on their table, their jobs and their homes. »

Hillier’s comments came as the Russian military extended its grip on eastern Ukrainian territory on Thursday, and the Ukrainian military announced the arrival of powerful US multiple-launch rocket systems which it hopes will will provide an advantage on the battlefield.

The United States plans to send an additional $450 million in military aid to Ukraine, including additional medium-range rocket systems, munitions and other supplies, U.S. officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity to provide details ahead of an announcement.

Analysts said the advanced systems, which Canada does not operate, would give Ukrainian forces greater accuracy in hitting Russian targets.

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on June 24, 2022.

â – With files from the Associated Press.

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