Cana­dian arms sales to Ukraine a mys­tery

Ottawa won’t reveal if any re­quests for ex­port made, let alone if any have been ap­proved

The Peterborough Examiner - - Canada & World - LEE BERTHIAUME The Cana­dian Press

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.

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