PGW Defence Technologies of Winnipeg is the Canadian firm that will be selling sniper rifles to Ukraine’s military.
PGW owner Ross Spagrud told Ukrainian media outlet UATV that the firm is providing Ukraine with the LRT-3, .50-calibre BMG bolt action rifle, equipped with suppressors to reduce sound and muzzle flash. He said the deal is worth around $1 million.
Global Affairs Canada has declined to provide any details, stating it must protect the commercial interests of the firm. But the office of Conservative defence critic James Bezan noted that Global Affairs Canada approved the sale last week. Bezan said last week that would mean the weapons would be delivered in time for any new outbreak of fighting with Russian-backed forces this fall.
Ukrainians have been fighting each other since 2014, with government troops battling separatist rebels in the Donbass region. Russia also annexed Crimea from Ukraine and has provided support to the separatist forces in the small region.
In February 2016, PGW was in the news when it emerged that its LRT-3 .50-calibre rifles, sold to Saudi Arabia, had ended up in the hands of Houthi rebels. The guns were taken by rebels after a battle with Saudi forces.
In his interview with Ukrainian TV, Spagrud said there was little a company could do to prevent its weapons from falling into the wrong hands during a situation like an ongoing conflict. But he claimed that such rifles were “almost worthless” unless those using them had a year’s worth of training on the weapon.
In December 2017, the House of Commons defence committee recommended the government provide weapons to Ukraine, provided it demonstrates it is working to eliminate corruption at all levels of government. Senior officials from Ukraine’s ministry of defence told the defence committee last year they would welcome arms from Canada, including anti-tank weapons. They told the committee that the Ukrainian military’s sniper equipment was obsolete.
Peggy Mason, a former disarmament ambassador to the United Nations and a security adviser to the Mulroney government, told the committee that providing lethal weaponry to Ukraine could prompt “escalatory actions” by pro-Russian separatist groups “because each side feels it must respond to a show of force by the other.” Sending arms into the ongoing conflict is the wrong direction for Canada to take, she argued.
Canada’s decisions to ship arms into conflict zones have met with mixed results. The government approved the export of Canadian-made rifles to Kurdish forces fighting ISIL, but those weapons have since been turning up on the black market. Earlier this year, Turkish commandos battled terrorists in that country, recovering one of the Canadian rifles.
Read the original text at National Post.