In a significant trip to Brussels, the Honourable Bill Blair, Minister of National Defence, engaged in pivotal meetings with global defence leaders, enhancing Canada’s role in international security. Minister Blair’s itinerary included the 23rd Ukraine Defense Contact Group (UDCG) meeting and the NATO Defence Ministers’ meeting, which featured a session of the NATO-Ukraine Council in Defence Ministers format.

“NATO is stronger and more united than ever before – and Canada’s commitment to the Alliance is steadfast. Over the past two days, we have made important progress to prepare for the Washington Summit – and advanced our work to provide Ukraine the tools that it needs to win,” assured the Honourable Bill Blair, Minister of National Defence.

On June 13, during the UDCG meeting hosted by U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III, Minister Blair made several key announcements. Canada committed to sending an initial batch of 2,300 CRV7 rocket motors to Ukraine. Additionally, more than 130,000 surplus rounds of small arms ammunition and 29 Nanuk Remote Weapons Systems from the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) inventory will be provided. Blair also proudly announced the imminent departure of the first four of fifty Armoured Combat Support Vehicles from General Dynamics Land Systems-Canada, manufactured in London, Ontario.

A significant milestone was achieved as Minister Blair signed a Letter of Intent for the Armour Capability Coalition, cementing Canada’s participation. Canada also continues its active membership in both the Drone Capability Coalition and Air Force Capability Coalition.

On June 13 and 14, Minister Blair joined NATO Defence Ministers to prepare for the forthcoming NATO Leaders’ Summit in Washington. This meeting was notably Sweden’s debut as a full NATO member. Discussions centered around reinforcing NATO’s deterrence and defence strategies and bolstering support for Ukraine.

Minister Blair reaffirmed Canada’s unwavering commitment to NATO. Notably, HMCS Charlottetown will deploy from Halifax, Nova Scotia, to lead Standing NATO Maritime Group 2 in the Mediterranean Sea. Over the next six months, this vessel will engage in missions and exercises alongside Allied warships.

On the sidelines of the Defence Ministers’ Meeting, Blair and Romanian Defence Minister Angel Tîlvăr signed a new Defence Cooperation Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), replacing the 1993 MOU on Bilateral Military Relations. This updated agreement will enhance cooperation in military education, training, operations, defence research and technology, and mutual logistics support.

At NATO HQ, Blair had productive discussions with Norway’s Defence Minister Bjørn Arild Gram and Germany’s Defence Minister Boris Pistorius, focusing on strengthening trilateral cooperation. He also met with representatives from Estonia, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, the United Kingdom, and the United States, addressing NATO’s eastern flank reinforcement. Blair emphasized Canada’s efforts to enhance its presence in Latvia, including preparations for the enhanced Forward Presence Brigade’s first exercise and NATO Combat Readiness Evaluation in Fall 2024.

In meetings with members of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group Drone Coalition, Blair highlighted the impending delivery of 900 Canadian-built drones to Ukraine and Canada’s recent $3 million investment in Ukraine’s drone production. Discussions also included finalizing the Coalition Memorandum of Understanding and improving coordination among partner nations.

Additionally, Blair and several counterparts signed a Letter of Intent supporting the Partnership for Peace Consortium of Defense Academies and Security Studies Institutes, reinforcing their collective commitment to strengthening educational partnerships in defence and security.

Amidst a critical period for Euro-Atlantic security, Canada remains deeply engaged with NATO Allies to ensure the safety of Canadians and the broader billion-strong community under NATO’s protection.