Michael MacKay, Radio Lemberg, 14.08.2018
Canada will deliver lethal weapons to Ukraine – at last.
The Ministry of Defence of Ukraine will purchase long-range sniper rifles manufactured by PGW Defence Technologies, a Canadian company based in Winnipeg. The deal is worth approximately $1 million Canadian (about $770 thousand US). The sniper rifle is the LRT-3 50 calibre SWS, which the company’s website says has an effective range of 1,800 metres. The Russian trenches and the Ukrainian trenches are closer than that along most of the battlefront in Donbas.
On 13 December 2017, Canada added Ukraine to the Automatic Firearms Country Control List. This means that the Government of Canada will consider and may approve weapons sales to Ukraine. Previously, lethal or offensive weaponry was off-limits as a way for Canada to help Ukraine.
Eight months to the day after lethal weapon sales got the go-ahead, a deal is finally in place. Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Chrystia Freeland, must approve an export permit but it would be a shock if she did not do so. The LRT-3 50 calibre sniper rifles could be delivered as early as this autumn to the Armed Forces of Ukraine. The Canadian defence industry and the Ministry of Defence of Ukraine hope that it is the start of a much larger partnership.
Ukraine is fighting a war of national salvation against foreign invaders from Muscovy. Ukraine aspires to take its promised place as a member of NATO and must adopt common technical standards to do so. Both of these exigencies mean that Canada-Ukraine defence co-operation is viewed positively by policy-makers in both countries and has much room for growth.
Losses in Putin’s War in Donbas are disproportionately due to sniper fire. Ukrainian defenders are beginning to gain an advantage over Russian invaders as they adopt modern, NATO-standard sniper rifles to replace old, Soviet-era Dragunov sniper rifles that were first manufactured in 1963.
Given the kind of war Putin is waging against Ukraine, a long-range sniper rifle is what is needed immediately for the defence of the Ukrainian homeland, Europe, and the West. The sooner Canadian sniper rifles get into the hands of Ukrainian marksmen the better.