December 13, 2017 / 10:02 PM / 2 years ago

Canada says defense firms can now sell small arms to Ukraine

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada said on Wednesday that defense contractors would be allowed to sell weapons such as automatic firearms and electric stun guns to Ukraine, a move the government in Kiev has long pressed for.

The Canadian foreign ministry said in a statement it would closely examine every bid and noted that “exportation of these items is limited.”

Ukraine, which says it needs the weapons to help counter Russian-backed separatists who have occupied eastern parts of the country, also wants to buy arms from the United States. Washington though has yet to make a decision.

In September, Russian President Vladimir Putin warned the United States not to supply Ukraine with defensive weapons.

A war in eastern Ukraine between pro-Russian separatists and Ukrainian government forces has killed more than 10,000 people in three years.

Around 200 Canadian troops are stationed in Ukraine to help train local soldiers. The mission is due to end in March 2019.

Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland is a strong critic of Russia, in particular its decision in 2014 to annex the Ukrainian region of Crimea.

Reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by Lisa Shumaker

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