Drone cameras destined for Ukraine were banned earlier for export to Turkey

The ban on exporting the sensors to Turkey came after the Canadian government determined the drones were being used by Azeri forces fighting Armenia.

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The cameras Canada will supply to Ukraine for use against the Russian military are the same ones the Liberal government previously banned from exporting to Turkey after being used in combat.

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Wednesday that the government will provide $50 million in new military and humanitarian aid to Ukraine. Part of this money will be used to buy Wescam surveillance cameras for Ukrainian armed drones Bayraktar TB2. The Bayraktar TB2 is built by Turkey and has been sold to Azerbaijan, Ukraine, Poland and several other countries.

Sources tell this newspaper that the money will be used to purchase between 30 and 40 of the cameras from L3Harris Wescam in Hamilton, Ontario. It is unclear how soon the surveillance cameras will be available to Ukraine and the Canadian government has not provided any details.

Last April, Marc Garneau, then Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, halted exports of L3Harris Wescam cameras to Turkey for use in the Bayraktar TB2. The ban on exporting the sensors to Turkey came after the Canadian government determined that Bayraktar drones were being used by Azeri forces fighting Armenia in the Nagorno-Karabakh enclave.

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“This use was not consistent with Canadian foreign policy, nor with end-use guarantees given by Turkey,” Garneau said.

The ban on exporting the cameras to Turkey will remain in place.

Ukraine is believed to have around 50 of the Bayraktar TB2 drones, which it first purchased in 2019.

Relatively inexpensive Bayraktar drones have successfully targeted tanks and other armored vehicles in various conflicts. Ukraine released a video of one of the planes attacking a Russian military column.

Wescam equipment is also fitted to US Predator drones which have been used in what the Americans call “targeted assassinations” involving terrorist targets. But it is also estimated that between 10,000 and 20,000 innocent civilians have been killed in these drone attacks in Afghanistan, Somalia, Pakistan and Yemen.

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Turkey, a NATO ally, reacted angrily to Canada’s decision last year on the export ban. Officials there have warned that the Canadian response could cause serious problems for Turkey and its drone customers.

Turkish officials also accused Canada of double standards since the Liberal government had continued to allow military exports to Saudi Arabia. This nation has a poor human rights record and played a key role in the war in Yemen, a conflict that has claimed 100,000 lives.

Canada said it was shipping a variety of lethal and non-lethal equipment to Ukraine.

While some of the equipment arrived shortly before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, there are growing doubts whether the rest of the equipment will be delivered in time.

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The Canadian army is to send 100 anti-tank weapons and 2,000 rounds of ammunition to Ukraine as well as more protective vests for the troops. No details on when the equipment will reach Ukraine have not been released for security reasons.

In addition, Liberal ministers also announced that Canada would provide $25 million in non-lethal aid. But this equipment, including helmets, gas masks and night vision goggles, will not come from the Canadian Forces equipment inventory. Instead, the Canadian government procurement system will purchase the equipment from various companies and vendors.

Global Affairs Canada declined to answer questions about the donation, but some industry officials say there are already problems purchasing the necessary equipment.

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