A war has been raging in Eastern Europe for nearly a decade, with a major escalation of hostilities that began nearly 11 months ago.
The full scale invasion of Ukraine at the hands of (President) Vladimir Putin's Russia has led to hundreds of thousands of people dead, both combatants and innocents, with millions more displaced by the conflict.
The Russian regime has shown publicly it has next to no regard for civilian casualties, the rules of war as laid out in international law or for the opinions of the global community. The regime continues to laugh at our sanctions that still enable the Russian people, many of whom openly and proudly support their government's war of conquest, to live lives of relative comfort compared to the lives being lived by their victims in Ukraine.
Canada has provided, or committed to provide, the Ukrainian government with financial support, hundreds of light armoured vehicles, a handful of artillery pieces, handheld anti-tank weapons and hundreds of thousands pieces of winter uniforms for the Ukrainian Armed Forces.
Our country took brave steps to lead the global community to accept Ukrainian refugees who lost everything at the hands of the Russian regime.
Once again the global community has found itself in need of leadership, and brave decision-making. This time in regards to main battle tanks.
Ukraine is a country that prior to the February 2022 invasion, possessed approximately 1,900 main battle tanks of all types, according to GlobalFirepower. Comparatively, Russia boasts nearly 12,500 main battle tanks of all types. That illustrates a massive disparity in equipment before we begin to even look at the quality and age of the equipment, a category in which Ukraine once again is at a disadvantage.
There have been many pleas from the Ukrainian government to supply it with modern Western main battle tanks, such as the Leopard 2 and the M1 Abrams to an attempt to level the playing field.
Ukraine's major Western allies, such as Canada, the United States, Germany, the United Kingdom, France, Poland and more met last week in Ramstein, Germany to discuss the issue of supply of main battle tanks but could not reach a consensus on whether or not to send them.
Major producers argued about who should send theirs first and left their support contingent on other nations being the first to send their own main battle tanks. This is where our MPs come in.
Canada currently has 87 Leopard 2s that are operational and combat ready. While our tanks would be a drop in the bucket compared to the thousands of main battle tanks Russia has, it could be a sign to our allies it is time for this equipment to head to Ukraine.
Canada has been a leader and has punched above its weight in many areas of support for Ukraine. We led the way in sanctions, we led the way in financial support, we've led the way in winter equipment for Ukrainian forces, we led the way in providing light armoured vehicles and now the world once again calls for leadership. The only question is, will we answer that call?
There is not enough time for Ukraine's allies to sit by and debate who will send weapons first and make sure our contributions are all equivalent to that of other nations. Every day thousands more are killed, displaced or robbed of their liberty at the hands of a violent Russian regime. Every second of inaction is an action that costs more innocent lives.
The Russian government has no interest in a diplomatic settlement on any terms other than the ones they've chosen. It is not interested in compromise. It is not interested in peace. It is not interested in diplomacy. It is only interested in using force to achieve its objectives.
As such, that force must be met with a deterrent force of equivalent strength, a deterrent force that can only be achieved through the combined contributions of Ukraine's allies. There are no other terms that the current Russian regime can understand.
I ask that our British Columbia MPs, as well as those across our country, take it upon themselves to champion the cause of sending Canada's Leopard 2s to Ukraine. It is the only way that we can stop the suffering and the horrific atrocities that have been inflicted upon the Ukrainian people.
I also ask our MPs to remember the lessons of history. If Ukraine was to recognize Russia's newly annexed territories, who is to say Russia would not simply remilitarize and come back for the rest of it?
The West made the mistake of giving in to appeasement in 1938 and by doing so, invited the horrors of war. I beg (MPs) to remember what is at risk by choosing inaction as their course of action.
Mitchell Really, West Kelowna