Canada sending 40 military engineers to Poland to train Ukrainian forces

Canada sending 40 military engineers to Poland to train Ukrainian forces
Minister of National Defence Anita Anand and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau arrive to hold a press conference in Ottawa on Monday, Sept. 26, 2022.

Canada is sending 40 military engineers to Poland to train Ukrainian forces in their fight against Russia, following airstrikes on civilians that have G7 leaders pledging to support Kyiv “for as long as it takes.”

Defence Minister Anita Anand announced the new deployment during a visit to Warsaw on Tuesday before a planned meeting with NATO counterparts in Belgium.

The Department of National Defence says the engineers will be attached to a Polish-led training effort focused on teaching Ukrainians how to use explosives, among other things.

The new contribution is on top of the approximately 225 military trainers already working with Ukrainian forces as part of a British-led training mission.

It is also in addition to the deployment of three Hercules transport planes to Scotland, where the aircraft are helping deliver supplies to Ukrainian forces.

Anand’s announcement comes days after an explosion damaged an important bridge connecting Russia and the Crimean Peninsula. That cut off a major military supply route Saturday for Russia, which annexed the area in 2014.

In retaliation, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered missile strikes on several Ukrainian cities Monday, killing civilians and damaging key infrastructure.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau phoned Volodymyr Zelenskyy about the incident, pledging more support but stopping short of Zelenskyy’s demand for some sort of air shield to intercept Russian missiles.

Canada summoned Russia’s ambassador over the airstrikes, and the leaders of the Group of Seven, representing some of the world’s advanced economies, decried the events as possible war crimes.

“We will continue to provide financial, humanitarian, military, diplomatic and legal support and will stand firmly with Ukraine for as long as it takes,” read a joint statement released Tuesday.

The G7, which includes Canada, said it supports an end to the war that recognizes Ukraine’s sovereignty and holds Russia accountable for the war, including having that country fund Ukraine’s reconstruction.

In a Tuesday press briefing, Russia’s foreign ministry claimed the attack on the bridge to Crimea amounted to a terrorist attack that merited retribution.

The ministry also urged Ottawa to not offer more arms and training to Ukraine’s military, arguing it hampers a diplomatic solution.

“The Russian-Canadian relationship is, unfortunately, in a deep crisis,” spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said in Russian.

“It’s the fault of Ottawa officialdom, because it follows the anti-Russian path that it has been doing for a long time, at the behest of the Trudeau regime.”

Zakharova also said that as of Tuesday, Russia’s embassy in Ottawa had not received any update about the RCMP probe into a Molotov cocktail being thrown over the fence a month ago, without exploding.

The RCMP did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

“It’s been a month now, and the Canadian police have not bothered to inform the embassy about the initial results of the investigation,” Zakharova said, echoing the embassy’s call for round-the-clock police protection.

“This is customary in all countries that consider themselves civilized.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 11, 2022.

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