Canadian arms sales to Ukraine a mystery
Ottawa won’t reveal if any requests for export made, let alone if any have been approved
OTTAWA — Six months after the federal government opened the door to the export of Canadianmade weapons to Ukraine, which is locked in a war with separatist rebels, it remains a mystery as to whether any have actually arrived.
Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland announced in December that the government was adding Ukraine to the Automatic Firearms Country Control List, which is a list of countries eligible for arms exports.
As a result, Canadian companies and individuals can now apply to Freeland for permission to export prohibited weapons and other previously banned equipment to Ukraine. But Global Affairs Canada has refused to say whether any requests for a permit to export arms to Ukraine have been received, let alone approved.
“Each permit application will be assessed on a case-by-case basis to ensure its consistency with Canada’s international obligations and foreign policy and defence priorities,” Global Affairs Canada spokesperson John Babcock said in an email. “For reasons of commercial confidentiality, the department does not comment on any applications for export permits.”
Freeland’s decision to add Ukraine to the firearms control list was greeted with applause from Kyiv, which has long lobbied for more military assistance from Canada, as it fights Russian-backed separatists. But it stoked anger from Russia as well as concern from arms-control and human-rights groups, who say rights violations have been perpetrated by both sides in the conflict.
Opponents of Canadian arms exports have worried about these weapons adding to the carnage.
“Support for Ukraine’s sovereignty, security, and prosperity has nothing to do with the risk that Canadian-made automatic firearms exported there might be misused,” said Cesar Jaramillo of Project Ploughshares.