Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Background on Canada-Ukraine defence agreement: A ‘rich, mutually beneficial’ arms trade

Merchants of death
(May 20, Revised August 25) – One of the main features of the Defense Agreement between Canada and Ukraine signed on April 3 is the neo-liberal arrangements regarding arms production and the global arms trade. These arrangements are taking place within the conditions of intensified inter-imperialist rivalry to monopolize the global arms trade and the expansion of the theatre of operations of the U.S.-NATO bloc not only in Eastern Europe but also in the Middle East. The AFP news agency reports that Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan “also said [the Defense Agreement] was a step toward liberalizing arms sales to Ukraine, which are currently restricted. The accord is ‘a very important step before [we] get to that,’ he said.” In a Department of National Defense (DND) release, he stated it “helps us continue to develop our rich, mutually beneficial relationships.”

The agreement codifies, legitimizes and opens the door to government funding of private arms deals that have already been negotiated between giant arms monopolies of Canada and Ukraine. It marks the latest stage in the accelerated rapprochement between the two countries’ military and security establishments in recent years. This relationship, with typically overt and covert features, is undertaking increasing strategic significance with a number of important partnerships forged in the military-industrial and educational sectors.

On the Canadian side, CBC reported on March 4 that “Canadian companies are also finding plenty of opportunity as Ukraine retools its defence industry. Pratt & Whitney Canada, Esterline/CMC Electronics, IMP Aerospace, and L-3 Wescam all have joint projects with Ukroboronprom,” the Ukrainian state-owned defence consortium.

Equally, the privatization of Ukroboronprom and the increase of Ukraine’s share of the global arms trade constitutes a main agenda of the Poroshenko government. A state-owned authority established in December 2010 to handle the development and procurement of combat hardware, Ukroboronprom directs the consolidation of the Ukrainian arms industry, along with state arms exporter Ukrspetsexport. In the wake of the 1991 breakup of the Soviet Union, Ukraine inherited one of the biggest military-industrial complexes in the world, employing over three million people at more than 3,000 enterprises across the republic. In addition, Ukraine was left with one of the largest surpluses of weapons with an estimated worth of $89 billion in 1992. Twenty-six years later, a mere 134 such enterprises – 123 state enterprises and nine joint stock corporations employing less than 100,000 people – are still at work.

Nevertheless, Ukraine is ranked as the ninth leading arms exporter in the world, while Canada is now the fifth. The ninth world weapons exporter needs lethal weapons coming from abroad? Why does no Canadian official or media raise this question? With a still large defense industry capable of producing a wide range of advanced weapons, the country is unable to satisfy its basic needs while the defence production is largely focused on exports to enrich a certain group of people.  (more...)


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