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Canada to send more combat engineers to Poland to train Ukrainian forces

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Canadian Defense Minister Anita Anand (L) and her Polish counterpart, Mariusz Blaszczak, review the honor guard during a welcoming ceremony in Warsaw, Poland, October 11, 2022. (Photo by Reuters)

Canada says it will send 40 more combat engineers to Poland to help support the fellow NATO member to train Ukrainian forces, nearly eight months after Russia began a military offensive against Ukraine.

Canadian Defense Minister Anita Anand announced the deployment during a visit to the Polish capital of Warsaw on Tuesday morning, before a planned meeting with NATO counterparts in Belgium.

“In the coming weeks, Canada will deploy approximately 40 combat engineers to Poland to help Polish forces train Ukrainian sappers on engineer reconnaissance, explosives, mining and demining,” she said at a joint press conference with her Polish counterpart, Mariusz Blaszczak.

The fresh deployment will come in addition to the approximately 225 military trainers working with Ukrainian troops as part of a UK-led training mission.

“They will expand the operational effectiveness of the Ukrainian armed forces as they continue to move forward and take back their land,” Anand further told reporters.

Up until now, the Canadian armed forces have reportedly trained over 33,000 Ukrainian military and security personnel under Operation UNIFIER since 2015, almost a year after a bloody war broke out between Kiev and separatist forces in the breakaway Donbass region.

However, Canada had paused aspects of the training effort since February, when Moscow began its “special military operation” in Ukraine.

Since the onset of the offensive, the United States and its European allies have imposed waves of economic sanctions against Moscow while supplying large consignments of heavy weaponry to Kiev, defying Russian warnings.

Moscow has been critical of the weapons supplies to Kiev, warning it will prolong the conflict.

According to Anand, the additional training “will complement Canadian training of new Ukrainian recruits in the United Kingdom, and Canadian training of Ukrainian personnel on the use of the M777 howitzers that we donated to Ukraine.”

Back in July, the UK’s Ministry of Defense said that the first group of new Ukrainian recruits had started to be trained by British forces across the UK.

At the time, the ministry added that the major UK-led military program would train up to 10,000 Ukrainian volunteer recruits over the coming months, adding that “the course covers weapons handling, battlefield first aid, field craft, patrol tactics and the Law of Armed Conflict.”

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