Canadian sniper rifles to defend Ukraine from Russian-backed separatists

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(Ministry of Defence of Ukraine/Flickr)

First lethal weapons deal is reached between Canada and Ukraine

PGW Defence Technologies, a Canadian weapon manufacturer, will be delivering their LRT-3 .50 BMG sniper rifles to Ukraine under a deal worth about $ 1 million and approved by Global Affairs Canada.

On August 12, 2018, Ross Spagrud, an owner of the Winnipeg-based company, confirmed in his interview with UATV that the contract with the Ukrainian Ministry of Defence had been signed after three to four months of negotiations. LRT-3 .50 bolt action rifles with a designed effective range over 1,800 metres will become the first Canadian lethal weapons provided to Ukraine since the Canadian government added Ukraine to Canada’s automatic firearms country control list on November 23, 2017. Dealing with Ukraine, Canadian contractors are obliged to apply for an export permit, which is assessed by Global Affairs Canada on a case-by-case basis. In this case, according to Ross Spagrud’s interview with CBC Radio of August 15, 2018, Global Affairs Canada has already issued the required permit to PGW Defence Technologies. The Conservative MP James Bezan tweeted in support of this sale’s approval.

“Still waiting for @JustinTrudeau to take #CPC advice & send $10.5 million in weapons to Ukraine that are collecting dust in warehouses in Montreal and Jordan.”

Meanwhile, there are some critics of selling lethal arms to Ukraine whose main argument is that it might escalate tensions on the ground. Ottawa Citizen quotes Peggy Mason, a former disarmament ambassador to the United Nations, referring to pro-Russian separatist groups, that “each side feels it must respond to a show of force by the other.” Russian news agency RIA-Novosti cites the reaction of Igor Korotchenko, an editor-in-chief of National Defence magazine, who says that “Canadian lethal weapon’s delivery to Ukraine, including sniper rifles, is, certainly, an extremely destabilizing step which makes  the Canadian authorities participants, siding with one of the conflict parties during the civil war in the east of Ukraine.”

In turn, the Canadian weapon manufacturer sees “a strong support” of the Ukrainian people in Canada in respect to this particular rifle deal. “They, as a community, are not pleased with the situation in the [sic] Ukraine,” says Ross Spagrud in his interview with CBC Radio. Having been asked about Russian-backed separatists as a potential target of those rifles, the PGW Defence Technologies’ owner stated that they were being purchased by the Ukrainian military. “I think we can probably assume a few things from that, but that was not part of our negotiations or contract discussions with the Ukrainian military,” responds Ross Spagrud. He recommends posing this question to Ukraine’s Ministry of Defence and Global Affairs Canada.

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