Maan Alhmidi, Canadian Press
Published Friday, March 18, 2022 3:06 PM EDT
Last Updated Friday, 18 March 2022 5:46 PM EDT
TORONTO – The Canadian Armed Forces must be better prepared for new challenges in light of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Foreign Minister Melanie Joly said Friday.
Speaking at the University of Toronto School of Global Affairs and Public Policy, Joly said there were new challenges on the world stage after Russian President Vladimir Putin decided to start a war against Ukraine.
“It is important for our military to be better equipped. This is important because the world has changed. And we must be able to face new challenges,” he said.
“We see what Germany has done, which has increased its military and defense budget. And in that regard, I think we need to work with the Armed Forces to make sure we are prepared.”
Joly added that NATO and Canada are ready to face further Russian aggression.
“NATO has confirmed that we have strengthened the east wing,” he said. “Canada has stepped in to ensure that we will provide more troops and obviously this is a top priority for the government.”
Treasury Secretary Chrystia Freeland has hinted that more money may come for the military in the upcoming federal budget.
Among NATO allies, the goal is to make defense spending equal to two percent of the size of the domestic economy. The latest figures from the alliance put Canada’s defense spending at 1.39 percent of the country’s gross domestic product in 2021.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has united western nations like never before and strengthened the NATO alliance, Joly said, adding that “there is nothing better than having one villain” to unite against.
“President (Vladimir) Putin is trying to divide the West and exploit our differences, but we are more united than ever,” he said.
Canada is working with its allies in the G7 and NATO to send military equipment to Ukraine, Joly said.
“It is important for … Ukraine to be able to defend itself and stop the bombing of civilians, but also have an impact on the diplomatic side, because that is Ukraine’s way to become stronger at the negotiating table,” he said. said.
Joly reiterated that the federal government is willing to take in unlimited numbers of Ukrainian refugees and officials are looking into the possibility of airlifting from neighboring European countries to bring individuals to Canada.
Canada is also helping eastern European countries hosting Ukrainian refugees, including Moldova, Romania and Poland, through its funding to UN agencies that help refugees, Joly said.
“We have provided $200 million in humanitarian aid. We work closely with the United Nations, and its various agencies, including UNHCR,” he said. “Special interest and support should be given to Moldova because it is one of the poorest countries in Europe.”
More than 3.5 million people have fled Ukraine so far during the 23-day Russian invasion.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 18, 2022.
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