OTTAWA — Canada will provide a $500-million loan and $7.8 million worth of lethal equipment and ammunition to Ukraine as the threat of a Russian invasion grows, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Monday.
He said the pledge is on top of a previously announced $120-million loan and non-lethal weapons that Canada has already provided to Ukraine.
The prime minister said he spoke on Saturday with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to reaffirm Canada's support as Russian troops stalk Ukraine's eastern border.
Trudeau also spoke with other European leaders over the weekend as worries of war in the region grow.
The prime minister said the lethal weapons and ammunition are in response to a specific request from Ukraine, which has already received arms from the United States, United Kingdom, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, the Netherlands, and Poland.
Trudeau said the goal of the support is to deter further Russian aggression.
"The situation is intensifying rapidly and we are showing our resolve," Trudeau told a news conference on Parliament Hill.
"It's important for Canadians and the world to know that Canada will continue supporting Ukraine and its independence, integrity (and) sovereignty, including its right to defend itself."
Alexandra Chyczij, national president of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress, praised the announcement, saying the decision to send arms marks a "major policy shift" that places Canada in line with coalition of democracies helping Ukraine. Chyczij added that the loan would help counter Russian efforts to destabilize the Ukrainian economy.
"In this extraordinarily difficult time for Ukraine, Canada has shown again that it is a true friend Ukraine and the Ukrainian people," Chyczij said.
On Sunday, the Defence Department announced the military is moving troops out of Ukraine in one of the strongest signals yet that a Russian invasion was imminent.
The department said soldiers who have been in Ukraine as part of a training mission are being temporarily relocated to elsewhere in Europe.
The department wouldn't say where the soldiers have gone, or how many of them have been moved, for security reasons.
The federal government has also closed its embassy in the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv, and Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly has urged any Canadians remaining in the country to leave now.
Earlier Monday, Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland joined her G7 counterparts in warning Russia that any military action against Ukraine would result in sanctions that would "have massive and immediate consequences on the Russian economy."
The federal government has imposed sanctions on 440 Russian individuals since 2014, when Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 14, 2022.
The Canadian Press