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Canada to give more than C$40 million to help buy artillery shells for Ukraine

France's Macron hosts Ukraine meeting in Paris

OTTAWA (Reuters) -Canada will give more than C$40 million ($29.40 million) to a Czech-led initiative aimed at buying 800,000 artillery shells from third nations for Ukraine, Defence Minister Bill Blair said on Tuesday.

The funds will help deliver several thousands of shells of heavy ammunition, Blair told reporters. Canada will also donate C$7.5 million worth of night vision devices to Kyiv.

Ammunition supplies have become a critical issue for Ukraine in its third year of fighting against Russia's invasion, now characterized by grinding artillery battles.

"Ukraine has made it very clear to us that they have a desperate need right now for artillery ammunition and that shortage is being felt on the battlefield," Blair said.

The commitment to help buy shells was part of a defense deal that Canada signed last month with the Czech Republic, but Ottawa had not revealed then how much it would spend.

The Czech-led initiative to buy 800,000 rounds of ammunition for Ukraine secured enough funding, with contributions from 18 countries, Czech President Petr Pavel said on March 7.

Canada has already donated approximately 40,000 rounds of 155mm artillery ammunition to Ukraine, sourced from both its own stocks and from purchases through the U.S. government. It is also seeking to boost its own production of 155mm shells.

Since Russia invaded in February 2022, Canada has committed C$4 billion in military assistance to Ukraine, including howitzers, main battle tanks and armored combat support vehicles, the statement said.

($1 = 1.3605 Canadian dollars)

(Reporting by David Ljunggren; editing by Jonathan Oatis and Leslie Adler)