Russia is thought to be preparing for a major offensive in the war with Ukraine. Ukraine’s top general, Valery Zaluzhny, wants 300 Western tanks and 600 vehicles to help fend it off.
Driving the news: On top of sending 39 armoured vehicles (as previously promised) to the frontlines, Canada has agreed to send Ukraine another 200 armoured personnel carriers. The vehicles will be supplied by Mississauga-based Roshel through a $90 million contract.
The bigger, trickier question is whether Canada would agree to requests for heavier-duty equipment: Tanks. NATO powers are divided over whether sending Ukraine tanks would be a step too far, mostly over worries that Russia would see it as a provocation.
- Berlin is caught in the middle, since the German-made battle tanks in question aren’t allowed to be re-exported without the original manufacturer's approval.
- If Germany gives the green light, Ukraine could move to formally ask countries, including Canada, Finland and Poland, for the equipment.
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has promised to provide Ukraine with 14 Challenger 2 tanks. Those are made in the UK, so the Brits can do what they want with them. Meanwhile, the US has flatly rejected the idea of sending tanks in favour of generous aid packages.
Why it matters: New tanks could tip the balance in Ukraine’s favour now that the war has reached a kind of stalemate. But if NATO can’t agree on the issue, withholding tanks will put Canada out of step with certain allies, while sending them would drag Canada deeper into a costly and dangerous war.