Canada Donating Hundreds Of Drones To Help War Effort In Ukraine | CBC News


The federal government is donating more than 800 drones to help the war effort in Ukraine, Defence Minister Bill Blair announced Monday.

Government suggests drones will primarily be used for surveillance missions

Darren Major · CBC News

· Posted: Feb 19, 2024 3:28 PM EST | Last Updated: February 20

Bill Blair, Minister of National Defence, makes an announcement regarding additional SkyRanger R70 drone support to Ukraine in Toronto, Monday, Feb. 19, 2024. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press)The federal government is donating more than 800 drones to help the war effort in Ukraine, Defence Minister Bill Blair announced Monday.

The SkyRanger R70 drones are made in Waterloo, Ont., and can carry cargo weighing up to 3.5 kilograms. The drones can be coupled with surveillance cameras to carry out reconnaissance missions, Blair said Monday.

“These drones are going to help Ukraine’s front line troops assess targets and threats quickly with accuracy and effectiveness,” Blair said during a press conference in Toronto.

The cost of the drones — roughly $95 million — comes from the $500-million military aid package announced by the government in June. Blair said the drones are expected to be delivered to Ukraine by the spring.

WATCH | Canada to send drones to Ukraine: 

Canada sending hundreds of military-grade drones to UkraineDefence Minister Bill Blair announces the government is sending more than 800 military-grade drones to Ukraine as concerns mount that Kyiv is faltering on the battlefield, and that it can no longer rely on the United States for support.

2 years since invasion beganThis coming week will mark two years since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine began.

Canada’s announcement comes as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy urges Western allies to provide his country with more military assistance, especially long-range munitions.

Zelenskyy said Monday in a social media post that Russia is taking advantage of delays in military aid.

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Monday that “the situation on the front line is extremely difficult in several areas.” (Alessandro Della Valle/AFP/Getty Images)”The situation on the front line is extremely difficult in several areas, particularly where Russian forces have concentrated the majority of their reserves,” he wrote on X, formerly Twitter.

“We are working with partners to resume and continue assistance while also increasing the strength of our own domestic defence industry.”

Blair was asked Monday if Canada could provide more weapons — specifically artillery shells and air-defence systems.

The minister said Ottawa has provided Ukraine with artillery shells from Canada’s own stockpile. He added that the government is looking at ways for Canada to increase domestic production of munitions, though he cautioned that would “take time.”

U.S. funding for Ukraine stalledHe also said that the promise of $406 million worth of surface-to-air missile defence systems, known by the acronym NASAMS, has been caught up in the U.S. legislative quagmire over aid to Ukraine.

Democrats in the U.S. Congress have sought to pass legislation that would provide billions in aid to Ukraine, Taiwan and Israel, as well as implement new measures on immigration. But Republicans have blocked the legislation, arguing it does not contain strict enough provisions around the U.S. border.

Blair said Monday that Canada had agreed to buy NASAMS for Ukraine along with the U.S., but that the purchase won’t go through until the military aid is approved by Congress.

“We are pushing as hard as we can to get those systems delivered. The Americans themselves have run into political process challenges that they’re working through, but that doesn’t take away the urgency,” Blair said.

Drones are crucially important for Ukraine on the battlefield. Thank you Canada, Minister @BillBlair for increasing our combat capability with the modern drones! 🇺🇦🇨🇦

—@kovaliv_yRoland Paris, a former foreign affairs adviser to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, said the delay in U.S. aid is “the biggest threat to Ukraine’s defensive capabilities.”

“Ukraine is suffering a growing shortage of artillery ammunition and air defences,” he told CBC News. “That gap needs to be closed in order for Ukraine to be able to put up a stiffer defence against Russian offensives.”

Avdiivka withdrawal signals need for aidMaria Popova, a political science professor at McGill University, echoed Paris’s point. She pointed to the recent announcement that Ukraine is withdrawing from the eastern city of Avdiivka as an example.

“The fall of the city is absolutely the result of aid to Ukraine being blocked in the U.S. for months now,” she said.

In this screen grab from a video taken on Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2023 by the BUAR done unit of the 110th Mechanized Brigade, an ariel view on the ground covered with craters from artillery shell explosions in a destroyed village of Stepove, near Avdiivka, Ukraine. (Ukrainian 110th mechanized brigade/The Associated Press)Oleksandr Syrskyi, Ukraine’s military chief, said over the weekend that he’s withdrawing troops from Avdiivka, where they’ve battled a Russian assault for four months.

Capturing the city is seen as key to Moscow’s aim of securing the Donbas region — a key Kremlin goal since the February 2022 invasion of Ukraine started.

Ukraine’s withdrawal from the city of Avdiivka marks the biggest change on the front lines since May when Russian troops captured the city of Bakhmut, also located in the Donbas.

“Ukraine needs massive military help as soon as possible in order to hold off or reverse further Russian gains,” Popova said.


Darren Major is a senior writer for CBC’s Parliamentary Bureau. He can be reached via email at

With files from Olivia Stefanovich, Raffy Boudjikanian, The Associated Press and The Canadian Press

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