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

Exposé: “It could scarcely be clearer. On top of laying the groundwork for increased arming of the Ukrainian armed forces, the Canada-Ukraine Defence Cooperation Agreement constitutes another means to expand arms sales from Canada to the Saudi Arabia dictatorship for war and aggression in the Middle East using Ukraine as a transit, as well as to potentially increase the share of the global arms trade by Pratt & Whitney, Esterline GMC Electronics and other private arms monopolies” | Investigation by TONY SEED

Merchants of Death – Lithograph by Mabel Dwight

(May 20, Revised August 25, 2017) – One of the main features of the Defence Agreement between Canada and Ukraine signed on April 3, 2017 are 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 Canadian Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan “also said [the Defence 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 Defence (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.[1]

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.

Ukroboronprom is a state-owned authority established in December 2010 to handle the development and procurement of combat hardware. It 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. Its ruling oligarchic elite began a programme of nation wrecking and liquidating fixed assets. 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. In addition, Ukraine was left with one of the largest surpluses of weapons with an estimated worth of $89 billion in 1992. [2]

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 nor media raise this question? With a still large defence industry capable of producing a wide range of advanced weapons, the country is unable to satisfy its basic needs while its defence production is largely focused on exports to enrich a certain group of people.

Private agreements have already been inked for the transfer of aircraft engines by Pratt & Whitney Canada through the agency of Ukraine to Saudi Arabia for the manufacture of a new military cargo aircraft

Private agreements have already been inked for the transfer of aircraft engines by Pratt & Whitney Canada through the agency of Ukraine to Saudi Arabia for the manufacture of a new military cargo aircraft for the Royal Saudi Arabian Air Force, as well as a new electronic warfare and surveillance aircraft, we have learned. The arrangements constitute an unholy alliance with the United States between Canada, Ukraine and Saudi Arabia.

The agreements do not provide for the supply of weapons to Ukraine, nor do they assist in the so-called defence of the coup government. They provide for the export of modernized designs of Soviet-era Antonov military cargo planes by Ukraine for production in Saudi Arabia, a U.S. client feudal dictatorship that is waging a brutal war of aggression against Yemen and supplying terrorist insurgents in Syria and Iraq.

Here is what we know:

On July 4, 2014, just six weeks after assuming the presidency of the U.S.-backed coup government, Petro Poroshenko appointed Roman Romanov to head the Ukroboronprom with instructions to convert what was left of its production after the sanctions against Russia to meet standards dictated by NATO, to integrate it into the NATO arms trade, and to corporatize the publicly-owned conglomerate in the service of private capital. “From July till December, 2014 to the list of the international partners of concern 20 new countries were added. The concern began negotiations on cooperation with such companies as Airbus, Textron, Lockheed Martin, BAE Systems, Thales.”[3]

Sevastopol Sea Factory – founded in 1783 and the same age as the city. The main activities are shipbuilding, ship repair, production of marine and industrial equipments, engineering and fabrication. Until the 1990s, it was the largest industrial enterprise of Sevastopol, with more than 15,000 workers.

Poroshenko is a known oligarch who made his fortune by stealing the assets of the country, selling them on the foreign market and granting concessions to foreigners in Ukraine. According to the 2016 rating of the Ukrainian edition of Forbes magazine, he ranked sixth among the richest oligarchs and managed assets worth $858 million (down from $1.3 billion); according to the rating prepared by Novoie Vremia together with Dragon Capital, he is the fourth richest. With Leninska Kuznya, Poroshenko is active in the shipbuilding and armaments industry although his shipyard in Crimea, the Sevastopol Sea Factory with three drydocks, has been nationalized.[4] The Panama Papers leaks suggested his companies had set up offshore holdings even as his army was fighting – and losing – a decisive battle with the Donbass troops in August 2014.

On September 3, 2014 NATO convened a conference on the occasion of the “International Defence Industry Exhibition” held in Kielce, Poland to discuss the future of Ukraine’s arms industry in the aftermath of Kiev’s pro-western coup d’état.

On March 4, 2015 Ukroboronprom announced that it was working with NATO’s codification and standardization teams to improve its industrial capabilities.[5]

On March 31, 2015 a “roadmap,” designating the path toward the Ukraine arms industry’s adaption of NATO’s standards by 2018 was then established at an international seminar of experts. “Participating at the conference were experts from Poland and the Czech Republic, who had had the experience of making the identical transformations of their own arms industries, back in the 1990s,” reported.[6]

On May 20, 2016 – soon after the Ukrainian National Security and Defense Council adopted a program for the restructuring of Ukraine’s arms production as well as the military in line with NATO standards – Porosenko declared, “We are beginning real reorganization of the defense and security sector in order to join NATO.”

As reported by the TASS news agency, he stressed that Ukraine had not been directly making steps for immediate accession to the NATO bloc, but called the move “The Rubicon” that Ukrainian armed forces and the arms industry would have to “pass” to adapt to NATO standards.

Passage over “The Rubicon,” however, is governed by an armed bridge. All military “support” from Canada and other countries is actually funnelled through the little-known U.S.-Ukraine Military Commission (DRAB); formed by the U.S. and headed by Gen. John Abizaid, former commander of Central Command (CENTCOM), it then invited a British and a Lithuanian general and a Canadian defence deputy minister to join its ranks. Despite the bilateral appearance suggested by the name, it is a U.S. imperialist agency that operates outside of NATO and outside of the United Nations. (In parallel, NATO’s International Military Staff is responsible for planning, preparation and providing all-round assistance in Ukraine–NATO military cooperation.)

This means that in applying these standards, the Ukrainian government is essentially  reporting to supranational agencies. The coup regime has submitted the country to the decision-making power and empire-building of global monopolies, supranational trade and U.S.-led military alliances and accords.

The standardization of military products with those produced in and exported by the NATO combat alliance was accompanied with U.S. and Canadian sanctions on supplying equipment to Russia to the benefit of rival monopoly interests in arms production and trade and secure U.S. hegemony.

Until then, the Ukrainian defence industry was tightly intertwined between Russia and Ukraine. The imposition of sanctions adversely affected major industrial centres of southeastern Ukraine such as Zaporizhia, Dnipropetrovsk, Kharkiv and Nikolaev. For example, Nikolaev became in the post-war period one of the shipbuilding centres of the USSR, with three shipyards: Black Sea, 61 Kommunara, and Okean. It was the sole supplier of heavy gas turbine engines to the Russian navy.

The U.S. sanctions forced the Ukrainian arms industries, especially aviation, to permanently shut themselves off from Russian companies, with which they had been closely cooperating up to 2013. [7] Arms monopolies from the NATO countries including Canada rushed to fill the breach of their competitors. The U.S.-NATO sanctions are fuelling the savage inter-imperialist, inter-monopoly rivalry for domination of the global arms trade, a factor for war.

The Saudi arms deal

An-132 D transport aircraft assembled completely with parts and components from NATO countries replacing Russian parts and components | (Click to enlarge)

On May 12, 2015 the SE Antonov company, Ukraine’s chief aircraft company which is based in Kiev, announced it had signed an agreement with Taqnia Aeronautics Company – a subsidiary of the Saudi Company for Development and Investment (Taqnia) – to develop and manufacture a light cargo plane (Antonov-132) in Saudi Arabia.

The announcement cites “the aircraft’s ability to perform many tasks including the transport of materials and equipment, and transporting personnel and soldiers, parachuting, medical evacuation, reconnaissance, maritime surveillance and other military and civilian tasks.”[8]

The AN-132 project itself is a “vehicle to achieve several objectives,” states Antonov. “In the near-term there is a worldwide market for about 1,000 of this type of aircraft,” an Antonov representative told AIN in late 2015. “Therefore, we think we can capture about 300 of those orders. The KSA requirement alone is for 80 aircraft or more, and then additional numbers can be built at the KACST site for third countries.”

The transformation of the AN-32 – a Soviet-era aircraft that has largely only been operated by traditional users of Russian and Ukrainian-made aircraft – into the AN-132 as a light transport aircraft that can be configured for military and civil applications is so that it will “appeal to almost any nation, including those that have only procured western aircraft in the past” – the members and “partners” of the U.S.-NATO bloc.

Taqnia is owned totally by a public investment fund of the ruling al Saud clan, sponsored by the Council of Economic Affairs and Development; it is chaired by HRH Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, deputy Crown Prince and Defence Minister and Special Adviser to the custodian of the Two Holy Mosques. The CEO of Taqnia is retired Major General Ali Alghamdi.

The facility to manufacture the AN-32 is to be located not in Ukraine but at the King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST) in Riyadh, whose president is Prince Turki Bin Saud. Nominally a scientific government institution that supports and enhances scientific applied research, it is being expanded into aerospace using capital and designs from NATO countries as “strategic partners”. In parallel, new facilities at the King Khalid International Airport (KKIA) will enable the construction of Airbus 380 and Boeing 777 aircraft along with Saudi-Ukrainian military aircraft.

King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology

Chronology of the deal

Demonstration against 2016 CANSEC arms show in Ottawa

In June 2015 a high-level Ukrainian delegation participated in the CANSEC arms show in Ottawa. The weapons fair is bankrolled by the Trudeau government and the biggest U.S. arms monopolies such as Lockheed Martin, the largest U.S. military contractor, and organized by the Canadian Association of Defence and Security Industries (CADSI). It has been the target of annual protests organized by the Ottawa-based Coalition Against the Arms Trade.

The private event features thousands of participants from more than 60 countries, including more than 4,000 from the Canadian government and Department of National Defence. Co-sponsor Canadian Commercial Corporation is a Crown corporation that arranges weapons deals between companies with facilities in Canada and foreign governments.

The delegation was led by the chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Victor Muzhenko, and included representatives of Ukroboronprom.

According to Ukroboronprom, “The parties held negotiations with such giants of the Canadian aviation industry as Bombardier, Pratt & Whitney, CAE, Magellan Aerospace, Bell Helicopter (MTL), Esterline CMC Electronics and others, having noted advantages of cooperation for both countries.”

On June 16, 2015 at the Dubai Air Show Antonov announced that the number of partners in the Saudi project had been expanded from two to five. It had signed new memorandums on cooperation with Taqnia Aeronautics (KSA); the Ukrainian Scientific Research Institute of Aviation Technology (UkrNII); Altis Holding (Ukraine); and Broetje-Automation (Germany) to establish the manufacturing facility in Saudi Arabia as part of the offset requirements for the program.[9]

According to arrangements spelled out in the agreement, Antonov will lead the design team for the AN-132 configuration, while acting as “consultants” in setting up the plant and producing the first prototype aircraft. The Saudis will retain proprietary rights (i.e., intellectual property) and documentation for the design.

Financial parameters of the project were not announced. Nevertheless, three quarters of the investment is being borne by the Ukrainian state.

RIA Novosti reported that, “according to information from a number of sources, the total cost of development work for 18 months will be 116 million dollars, 40 million of which will be paid by the Saudi side, and 76 million will be invested by the state enterprise Antonov. After the first take-off of the resulting prototype, the Arab partners will transfer another $20 million to conduct its tests. The share of Ukrainians at this stage will be $9 million.”

For its part, SE Antonov has been promised 10 per cent royalties on future sales. Information on penalties to be paid for not meeting delivery deadlines have not been released.

In addition, according to Antonov, in late 2015 it signed a memorandum of understanding to sell at least six AN-132 platforms to Saudi Arabia, four of which will be used for military and search-and-rescue operations, and two for electronic warfare. According to the designers, “the new electronic warfare (EW) aircraft can counter airborne warning and control system planes, air defence systems and manned and unmanned aircraft.”

In fall 2015, the influential Pratt & Whitney Canada monopoly based in Longueuil, Quebec provided the SE Antonov corporation with PW150A engines for a new AN-132D demonstration or prototype aircraft.

Mykhaylo Gvozdov, President of Antonoc Company, and Ali Mohammed Al−Ghamdi, CEO of Taqnia Aeronautics Co., sign Agreement on cooperation for establishment in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia of aircraft manufacturing complex and AN−132 production. The signing ceremony was held at AFED−2016 in presence of Mohammed Al−Ayish, Assistant Secretary of Defense of the KSA, Prince Turki bin Saud Mohammed A.Al−Saud and other officials of the KSA.

On February 21, 2016, Antonov and Taqnia Aeronautics signed a formal agreement on cooperation on the construction of an aircraft complex and production of AN-132 in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. It sets certain plans as for delivery, organization of operation, after−sale support of Antonov aircraft of the AN−132, AN−148 families and AN−178.

It also concerns further joint works on organization of cooperative production of the AN−132 in the KSA.

The new An-132D transport aircraft debuted in the demonstration flight program at the 52nd International Paris Air Show in Le Bourget, France, on June 19, 2017. The assembly of the prototype showcased at the air show was finished at Antonov’s facilities in December 2016. In March 2017, the plane carried out its maiden flight.

Free trade in arms

Kyiv, Ukraine – Prime Minister Stephen Harper presents Arseniy Yatsenyuk, Prime Minister of Ukraine, with the Ukrainian flag that flew over Parliament Hill in Ottawa to demonstrate solidarity with the people of Ukraine. (PMO photo by Jason Ransom)

On October 10, 2014 Harper presented Arseniy Yatsenyuk, then prime minister, with a Ukrainian flag flown over Parliament Hill in Ottawa. In August 2016 President Petro Poroshenko of Ukraine awarded Harper with the highest award for foreigners – Order of Liberty.

“The aim of NATO’s ‘Southern Strategy’ is precisely to exclusively equip and provide ‘partners’ such as Saudi Arabia with weapons systems and training for waging war in the Arab World.”

The Canada-Ukraine-Saudi activities to modernize a strategically important aircraft must be viewed as part of a broader picture.

On July 8-9, 2016 NATO discussed a “Southern Strategy” at the Warsaw Summit of heads of states and foreign ministers from 25 members states. They included Barrack Obama, Angela Merkel, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Chrystia Freeland, and 61 observer states, including Ukraine’s Poroshenko, Jordan and, from the Gulf Cooperation Council, the United Arab Emirates’ Minister of State for Defence Affairs Mohammed Ahmad Al Bowardi. Although the Summit was dominated by its expansion of the massive militarization of Eastern and Central Europe, its “Southern Strategy” precisely aims to exclusively provide “partners” such as Saudi Arabia with weapons systems and training for waging war in the Arab World.

The intimate involvement of NATO in the executive power of Ukraine is indicated by the fact that on May 27, 2016 Poroshenko appointed as his “non-staff” advisor no less a man than Anders Fogh Rasmussen, former Secretary General of NATO, who held that position from August 1, 2009 until 30 September 2014. Rasmussen was initiator of the “Readiness Action Plan” adopted by NATO Heads of State at the Wales summit in 2014. Poroshenko had already awarded him Ukraine’s Order of Liberty on August 7, 2014 “For his significant contribution to the development of cooperation between the Ukrainian state and the Atlantic Alliance and the strong support in defending the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Ukraine.”

What exactly was he capable of advising on behalf of the Atlantic Alliance? The answer is simple: Rasmussen advises for the interests of the most aggressive Anglo-American circles that kindled the military fire in Ukraine, dragged the European Union into a sanctions war with Russia, and intend to get Europeans hooked on expensive American energy.

After leaving his NATO post he established a private consultancy, Rasmussen Global, on October 1, 2014. It seems Ukraine is its largest and most profitable contract. In parallel with his appointment, Rasmussen convened a new Friends of Ukraine group of former NATO political leaders outside of NATO and outside of the United Nations; in order to get maximum amount for imperialist interests, it aggressively “calls for a bolder approach towards Russia and greater support for Ukraine and its reforms.” Three of the members are at the same time members of the board of the Yalta European Strategy forum of the oligarch Viktor Pinchuk. The group meets with Poroshenko several times a year. (It merits attention that representatives of Rasmussen Global have been invitees to the Halifax International Security Forum, a centre for regime change and intervention, since then, as well as several members of this group.)

From the Warsaw Summit, Trudeau and Freeland travelled to Auschwitz and Kiev.

On July 11, 2016 Freeland signed a new Canada-Ukraine Free Trade Agreement in the company of Trudeau and Poroshenko. Negotiations for the agreement were originally initiated by the Harper government in 2014.

The export of military aircraft engines and avionic systems is an integral part of the agreement, which provides the treaty framework for the related Canada-Ukraine Defence Agreement that was signed later on April 3, 2017.

Although bilateral trade between Canada and Ukraine is insignificant – an estimated $95 million annually – hundreds of millions are potentially at stake in the arms trade and aerospace sectors. The free trade deal signed on July 11 eliminated Ukrainian tariffs on imports.

Also on July 11, 2016 Ukroboronprom announced that it had concluded strategic agreements with two Canadian-based monopolies within the framework of the Canada-Ukraine Free Trade Agreement:

  1. Esterline CMC Electronics (formerly Canadian Marconi Company) inked two contracts with Antonov to supply avionics systems for a total of 67 transport aircraft (AN-12 and n-148/158/178) for military and commercial use. These contracts were signed in Kiev.[10]
  2. Pratt & Whitney Canada will furnish the AN-132 aircraft with the new version turboprop engine PW150A.[11]

Another agreement signed in Kiev provides for the training of Ukrainian avionic students from the National Aviation University at Candamore College in North Bay, Ontario and the training of Canadian students in Ukraine, illustrating the role of universities as arms of the arms corporations, rather than institutions that work in the public interest.

Trudeau and Freeland also visited the misnamed International Peacekeeping and Security Center in northwestern Ukraine, the largest military base in the world outside NATO, where Canadian and American forces are training the National Guard of Ukraine for Kiev’s internal war against the Donbass in Eastern Ukraine.

Lucrative business

Demonstration against 2017 CANSEC arms show in Ottawa

Pratt & Whitney and CMC Electronics are both U.S. subsidiaries. Pratt & Whitney is directly owned by the giant U.S. arms monopoly, United Technologies (UTC), which also has a factory at Rzeszów in southern Poland engaged in researching, designing, manufacturing, and servicing aerospace engines and components in Central Europe. UTC makes jet engines, missile systems, Sikorski and Black Hawk helicopters and other war materiel as well as consumer products.

For its part, CMC Electronics, formerly the Canadian Marconi Company (and thence BAE Systems Canada), was acquired in 2007 for US $335 million from the Onex investment group by Esterline Corporation of Bellevue, Washington which is connected to Boeing. Over 50 per cent of its military sales are to the United States.

The enhancement of Ukraine’s military capacities becomes therefore a lucrative business for Canadian producers of war materiel, which can make large dents in the state budgets of both Canada and Ukraine.

Although Canada very much needs small and medium civil aircraft designed for Canadian conditions, these Canadian-based private monopolies are deeply involved in designing and producing military equipment for export and in the training of U.S. and other military personnel, especially combat pilots. The feverish expansion of military forces and spending in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars of occupation and the strength of the resistance presented new opportunities for monopolies, specially those specializing in air power.

Successive Liberal and Conservative governments began increasing the flow of tax money collected from individual Canadians to certain privileged monopolies.

“Between 1961 and March 31, 2012, Pratt & Whitney Canada Corp. received the most funds from Industry Canada of any Canadian registered corporation…”

Overall, between 1961 and March 31, 2012, Pratt & Whitney Canada Corp. received the most funds from Industry Canada of any Canadian registered corporation under various pretexts: almost $3.3 billion via 75 disbursements that began in April 1970. CMC Electronics, ranking tenth, received between March 1972 and January 2009, $309 million in 83 disbursements, according to a study by the Fraser Institute.[12]

Brazen deception

It is worth recalling that in January and again on March 29, 2016 Freeland’s predecessor, Stéphane Dion, gave the false impression that a 14-year, $14.8 billion sale of light armoured vehicles (LAVs) by General Dynamics Land Systems in London, Ontario to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was a done deal. Prime Minister Trudeau explicitly claimed on October 11, 2015 – on the eve of the federal election on the Radio-Canada television program Tout le monde en parle – that the agreement was to sell “jeeps” to Saudi Arabia. He denied that the government had anything to do with it, saying it was merely “an agreement between a manufacturing company here in Canada and Saudi Arabia.”

The brazen deception by the Trudeau Liberals, rightly condemned by Canadians at the time, went much deeper.

The Globe and Mail reported earlier in 2016 that vehicles matching Canadian-made LAVs purchased by Saudi Arabia had already been photographed in use in Yemen.

Secondly, Canadian-made LRT-3 sniper rifles produced by Winnipeg-based PGW Defence Technologies were also in use in the Saudi invasion of Yemen, according to a CBC report on February 22, 2016.[13]

Thirdly, Pratt & Whitney Canada was simultaneously signing a Memorandum of Understanding with Ukraine for the export of high-power aircraft engines for use by the Saudi Arabian Air Force, and had already exported engines for the demonstration model.

Fourthly, there are credible reports that as early as May 2014 Canada was already participating in a clandestine program of weapons shipments to Ukraine involving a Ukrainian Antonov AN124 (tail number UR-82072) heavy lifter military transport plane.[14]

The feudal and theocratic Saudi monarchy is the second-largest purchaser of arms exported from Canada after the United States and its second most important ally in the Middle East after Israel.

Since early 2015 the Canadian government has formally endorsed the Saudi war of aggression against Yemen, hardly a secret. Canada has been a party to this aggression and thus a contributor to the famine and cholera epidemic of the Yemeni people beginning ONE DAY after the initial attack on March 27, 2015. In early 2016 the Globe and Mail reported that vehicles matching Canadian-made LAVs produced by the U.S. General Dynamics monopoly in London, Ontario and purchased by the Saudis had already been photographed in use in Yemen. The arming of the feudal theocratic Saudi dictatorship either directly or indirectly through Ukraine constitutes a crime against humanity.

These arrangements were made at the same time as Saudi Arabia was directly supplying arms and explosives to the “jihadist” groups in Syria – in which Canada claims a non-combat role – that engage in acts of terror under the guise that they form a “legitimate opposition.”

Shortly after the 2015 federal election, Stéphane Dion met with Adel Al Jubeir, Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs in Ottawa on Dec. 17, 2015 and issued the following statement on the Riyadh conference in mid-December of terrorist factions: “I congratulated the Minister on his leadership in bringing together the Syrian opposition parties, an important step toward a much-needed political resolution to the crisis.”

It could scarcely be clearer. On top of laying the groundwork for increased arming of the Ukrainian armed forces, the Canada-Ukraine Defence Cooperation Agreement constitutes another means to expand arms sales from Canada to the Saudi dictatorship for war and aggression in the Middle East using Ukraine as a transit, as well as to potentially increase the share of the global arms trade by Pratt & Whitney, Esterline GMC Electronics and other private arms monopolies. Unable to sustain its land forces in sustained fighting on other continents, U.S. empire-builders and their proxies consider better fighter and cargo planes, missiles and drones crucial to achieve military superiority in the air. This is all being done presumably with the approval of the United States and Israel and their military and security interests, although the terms of the new arms agreement have never been presented to the Canadian parliament nor the Canadian people.


1.Evan Dyer, “Ukraine looks to Canada to help modernize military’s ‘Soviet mentality,’” CBC News, March 4, 2017.

2.“Military-Industrial Collapse: How Ukraine Sells Its Weapons,” Sputnik, June 5, 2016.

The degeneration of the Ukraine SSR and the free-market “shock therapy” that the IMF and Western advisers imposed on Ukraine after the so-called “fall of communism” and “independence” in 1991 allowed a dozen or so well-connected “oligarchs” to plunder the country’s wealth and amass near total economic and political control. They are the principal reason for Ukraine’s pervasive corruption and poverty. These oligarchs became rich by grabbing and privatizing former socialized government property. The arms trade and control of the military power is a case in point.

Since 1991, the highest levels of the Ukrainian government have long ignored a huge outflow of illegal weapons, much of it to African countries in flagrant violations of UN arms embargoes – as well as to Croatia, Iraq and Afghanistan. It acquired a reputation as an anything-goes arms bazaar where weapons were available for a price – no matter who the buyers are or how they might use the deadly wares. Andrew Feinstein writes in The Shadow World: Inside the Global Arms Trade (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2011):

“As the country spiralled into economic crisis army officers in cahoots with the shadow dealers plundered these stocks. A parliamentary commission constituted to investigate allegations of illicit arms trading reached the sensational conclusion that Ukraine’s military stocks were worth $89bn in 1992 and that, in the course of the following six years, arms, equipment and military property worth $32bn were stolen, much of it resold. So explosive were the findings that the investigation was suddenly closed down, seventeen volumes of its work vanished and its members were cowed into silence. The MP who headed the inquiry, a former Deputy Defence Minister, Lieutenant General Oleksandr Ignatenko, was hauled before a court martial and stripped of his rank” (pp. 118-119, citing Ian Traynor, “The international dealers in death,” Guardian, July 9, 2001).

Indignant by the theft of national resources and shocked at being spurned by the government, Gen. Ignatenko leaked a 27-page summary of the commission’s voluminous findings to a Kiev newsletter. The journalist responsible was attacked by an unidentified gunman outside his home, who demanded that he “stay out of politics”; when he refused he was shot in the leg in a case that was never solved.

In comparison, Ukraine’s spending on legal arms for defence in 1999 was estimated to have been $500 million and in 2001 $550 million and her GDP was $38 billion; thus, this $32bn was not an insignificant sum. No Ukrainian official or politician has ever been brought to trial in connection with arms dealing.

In 2002, Valeriy Malyev, the head of Ukraine’s arms export agency, who was said to be on a leaked tape recording with Leonid Kuchma, who became prime minister (1992–93) and the second president of independent Ukraine (1994–2005), and the father-in-law of billionaire Viktor Pinchuk (who employs Chrystia Freeland as a moderator of his Yalta Economic Forum and is the largest foreign donor to the Clinton Foundation), personally approving a $100 million arms deal with Iraq, died in a mysterious car crash – one of many suspicious car accidents as the arms transfer scandal unfolded.

The present war provides great opportunities for money laundering through covert arms transfers. “The government reports say weapons systems and equipment are sent to the battle zone in huge quantities against the background of servicemen laments. The military say they lack everything. It’s easy to guess why. On paper it’s all sent to the front area while in reality the military supplies are sold to those who offer a better price. It has been reported many times that go-betweens take equipment from storages to sell it for the price exceeding three times the real cost” (Dmitry Minin, “Ukraine – Country Ruled By Most Corrupt Regime in the World, Strategic Culture, March 7, 2015).

3.Canada will help “Ukroboronprom” to revive the Ukrainian aircraft, June 8, 2015

4.The shipyards were placed under control of Poroshenko-owned Ukrprominvest in 2010. At the time, the oligarch was double-hatting as foreign minister 2009-10 and member of the National Security and Defence Council. The shipyards sold output worth $5.3 million in 2013. In February 2015 a Ukrainian delegation headed by Poroshenko – did he pursue private interest? – visited the Abu Dhabi arms exhibition. For a long time, Poroshenko was an owner of the Bogdan Motors auto and bus producer. He was also its co-founder. Now the factory belongs to his old business partner, Oleg Svinarchuk. In 2014 Bohdan started to produce the “Bars” (panther) multifunctional light armoured vehicle to be used by the National Guard of Ukraine after Poroshenko assumed the presidency.

Poroshenko’s residential estate includes a spacious white mansion resembling the U.S. White House, two smaller houses and even a chapel. He owns or controls some 100 enterprises in the confectionary, agriculture, insurance, banking, shipping, defence industry, food manufacturing and other sectors, which operate in 28 countries. While Russian-language TV outlets, newspapers and websites have been systematically shut down, 5 Kanal, one of Ukraine’s news channels owned by Poroshenko, has thrived.

Since assuming the presidency, Poroshenko has greatly enriched himself. “His Roshen confectionery corporation increased the profit in 2014 by nine times. The International Investment Bank owned by Poroshenko increased its capitalization by three times against the background of the national banking sector’s collapse,” according to Strategic Culture. The Ukrainian president is “one of the only business leaders in the nation to increase his business assets in 2015,” according to Euromaiden Press.

Graphic by Ganna Naronina, | Click to enlarge

Petrohenko clan

President Petro Poroshenko has installed loyalists and current or former business partners in key positions | Oligarch Watch (Click to enlarge)

5.Charles Forrester, “Ukroboronprom works on NATO part codification,”, March 5, 2015.

SE Antonov has a long relationship as a supplier to the NATO bloc. In 2004, Ukraine signed an agreement with NATO on Strategic Airlift in preparation for service in NATO and EU combat missions to transport NATO soldiers and their weapons to theatres of operations anywhere in the world. The contract therefore increased the NATO strike capability “in the context of the NATO Response Force (NRF) and EU Battle Groups” – against Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Asia.

The NATO Support Agency signed a contract with the Russian Volga-Dnepr Airlines – a Ukrainian Antonov Airlines joint venture, “Ruslan Salis Inc” (“Salis” stands for “Strategic AirLift Interim Solution”). Together, the two aviation companies had at their disposal more than 17 of the exceptionally large Antonov AN-124 cargo planes, with an exclusive cargo capacity of up to 150 tons. Since 2006, within the framework of their Ruslan Salis Inc. joint venture – Volga-Dnepr and Antonov have each placed six jumbo AN-124s at NATO’s disposal at the Leipzig/Halle airport in Germany.

In the meantime, the Canadian Forces used the Antonov-124 to transport war materiel to Afghanistan (pictured), its DART team to Sri Lanka in 2006 and more recently to assist France to transport war materiel to Mali.

The German Bundeswehr has used the AN-124s on more than 300 flights, particularly to transport combat equipment to and from Afghanistan and deliver relief supplies and weaponry to Northern Iraq. To this end, the Leipzig Airport was converted to a NATO air base for freight transport in violation of the 4-plus-2-Accord, which forbids foreign troops and military goods being stationed on and transferred by way of the territory of the former German Democratic Republic. Moscow not only accepted the forward deployment of NATO and EU troops to Leipzig, but also sought to be affiliated with the EU’s civilian-military aviation hub. Long-term cooperation meant a business worth US $25 billion. The Russian/Ukrainian-produced heavy cargo transporters, stationed at the Leipzig Airport, were capable of transporting – alongside helicopters, tanks and similar weapons – also a new rocket system to NATO and EU theatres of intervention.

See: “Crash with Consequences,”, May 11, 2015 and “Cooped Up in Leipzig,”, March 3, 2006.

An influential newspaper in Kiev, Mirror of the Week, reported last month that SE Antonov, a national asset, is in serious crisis and being wrecked. The publication notes that the disastrous consequences for the state enterprise stem from the mass arrival in June 2015 of former auto-industry managers, Poroshenko’s friends (see above fn 4), who did not have any experience in the aviation industry. This situation led to the dismissal of chief designer, who chose to leave Ukraine for Azerbaijan. The author writes:

The answer is simple; potential customers are well aware of the situation in the aviation industry of Ukraine and do not share the optimism of the expertise of its leaders. Let me remind you that the last An-148 was completed and handed over to North Korea two years ago – in April 2015. And two months after, Poroshenko’s men replaced the company’s management. From that moment on, that is, during the second half of 2015, the entire 2016 and the first half of 2017 not a single aircraft has been delivered to customers!

The famous aircraft factory today has almost no orders.

Innessa Sinchougava, “Poroshenko destroys famous aircraft factory Antonov,” Fort Russ News (translated from Politnovigator), April 23, 2017.

6.“Moving West,”, April 10, 2015.

7.Yuri Selivanov, a defence specialist from Odessa for the “New Russia” Internet portal, revealed the real background as to the geopolitics and the inter-imperialist competition and rivalry that underlay the U.S. sanctions and other provocations:

“They [United States – ed] are very interested in this for two reasons. Firstly, the cessation of supplies to Russia of Ukrainian aircraft engines and marine power plants, components, rocket and space systems and the like, will cause a direct blow to the defence capability of the Russian Federation and, in particular, delay the implementation of the State program of modernization of the armed forces, that given the current situation of pre-war USA gives additional benefits.

“Second, these restrictions to some extent affect the Russian military exports, which for Americans is also very important, because the Russian defence industry is in many ways their important and dangerous competitor.”

For these mainly Russian-speaking cities in southern and eastern Ukraine, where the defence industry and general engineering are major employers, this was a real economic and social tragedy.

Ukrainians protest “visit” of USS Vella Gulf, a Ticonderoga class guided missile cruiser, at the Black Sea port of Sevastopol in January 2012. Their slogans included “Yankee, go home!” and “No to NATO!” The protesters also burned a U.S. flag featuring Nazi swastika instead of stars. Yevhen Dubovik, a protest organizer, said the visit of a ship with offensive weapons was illegal because it had not been authorized by Ukraine’s parliament.

According to Selivanov,

“Actually it is the elimination of the socio-economic basis for the existence of a good half of the country, and its most developed part. And the creation of conditions for the mass exodus of Russian inhabitants of these territories, which is simply not be able to find other equivalent source of food. All this is fully consistent with the plans of the most extremist of the Ukrainian elite, which (for example, presidential adviser Lutsenko) unabashedly speaks of the necessity of ethnic cleansing in the south-eastern Ukraine, on the model of the expulsion of the entire Serb population from Croatia in the mid 90s.”

The U.S.-NATO sanctions fuel the savage inter-imperialist, inter-monopoly rivalry for domination of the global arms trade, a factor for war. The US exported perhaps $60 billion worth of military goods in 2012. Russia is its only potential rival, exporting some $17.6 billion in weapons in 2012. Here’s a more representative picture of the global arms market:

download (1)

This data mostly focuses on large armaments – planes, tanks, ships and bombs – and not small arms.

8.The characteristic of the AN-132 is that it can operate on unpaved runways or in other harsh desert or mountainous environments where many other transport aircraft could not. Many Soviet-era designs were known for being suitable for climatic conditions that are hot, desert-like and with performance still at near-peak efficiency. The advantage of the AN-132 in comparison with its competitors, such as the CASA C-295 and Alenia C-27J, is that it will be capable of flying with one inoperative engine at altitudes over 4,000 metres (13,132 feet), which is considerably higher than the “one-engine only” operational ceilings of both the C-295 and C-27J. It is intended for the transport of various cargoes weighing more than nine tons on short and medium trunk routes.

9.The agreement included four AN-148-100 aircraft, four reconnaissance and rescue variants of the AN-132 aircraft, and two devices for producing radio interference based on the aircraft for the Saudis.

10.The two CMC Electronics contracts with Antonov for avionics systems provided for:

  •  the upgrade of seven AN-124 transport aircraft, CMC will supply its CMA-9000 Flight Management System (FMS), CMA-5024 GPS Sensor and MFD-2068 Multi-Function Display in a dual configuration; and
  • sixty, new production AN-148/158/178 transport aircraft, for commercial and military use, Esterline CMC Electronics will supply dual CMA-9000 FMSs as well as five MFD-3068 Multi-Function Displays.

Antonov Aircraft Will Receive Avionics from Esterline CMC Electronics,” Ukroboronprom, July 12, 2016.

11.“Ukraine and Canada Sign Free Trade Agreement,” Ukroboronprom, July 12, 2016, and “Ukraine’s Antonov and Pratt & Whitney Canada sign MOU,”, July 14, 2016.

12.In addition, one must add paramilitary subsidies from other federal agencies such as the National Research Council as well as from provincial governments. For example, some 15 years ago the Chretien Liberals announced the creation of the Centre des Technologies de Fabrication de Pointe en Aerospatiale at l’Ecole Polytechnique de Montreal, which represented a $46 million investment to be added to the hundreds of millions already provided to Pratt and Whitney, Bell Helicopter, Heroux, Bombardier, etc., all of which have factories in the Montreal area.

A vice-president from Pratt & Whitney Canada, Walter Di Bartolomeo, heads up the newly-formed Consortium for Aerospace Research and Innovation in Canada (CARIC), according to the organization’s press release reprinted verbatim in the Ottawa Citizen. “CARIC’s mission is to develop advanced technologies for the Canadian [sic] aerospace community.” CARIC was spawned directly by a similarly titled body, the Consortium for Research and Innovation in Aerospace in Quebec (CRIAQ). That body is headed by Pratt & Whitney President and CEO Denis Faubert, who is also now a member of the first CARIC board of directors.

The first CARIC board of directors illustrates the increasing role of universities as research arms for the arms monopolies. Seven Quebec universities are founding members of CRIAQ. One quarter of the CARIC board – six high-level executives from Dalhousie, McGill, Ryerson, Carleton, University of British Columbia and École de technologie supérieure – have placed their institutions at the service of war and conquest. Meanwhile, Canadian Business magazine reports that Canadian monopolies are increasingly relying on universities to provide research and development. Rob Annan, interim CEO of global communications company Mitacs, says that by outsourcing innovation to universities, monopolies are able to minimize their exposure to risk. Moreover, university labs may have access to funding channels not available to the private sector.

According to a study by the Canadian Association of University Teachers, Open for Business, proprietary information from this collaboration always remains with the “partners.” See here.

Arms monopolies are plundering the resources of the Canadian people to fuel a feverish and lethal race, the motor force of their existence. It should be considered a serious crime to siphon off public money to enrich individuals or companies and enhance their monopoly right and power.

13.“The LRT-3 has an effective range of 1.8 km. CBC News said that more than $28 million worth of guns and rifles have been exported from Canada to Saudi Arabia in the past decade. Commentators suggested that this is a case of arms being ‘diverted into the wrong hands.’ This covers up that Canada is arming a country engaged in an aggressive invasion of another country. The plight of the people of Yemen as a result of the Saudi aggression has never been mentioned in either the House of Commons nor in any government statements while the casualties continue to rise and the humanitarian situation worsens.”

“Liberal Government’s Unacceptable Definitions of Democracy and Human Rights – The Example of Yemen,” Renewal Update, February 22, 2016 No. 5.

Antonov AN 124 heavy lift cargo plane

14. In a detailed article tracking the international flights and route of an Ukrainian Antonov (AN 124) that was apparently ferrying arms from a number of NATO and U.S. air terminals over the course of a year beginning shortly after the coup d’état in February and the launching of the “anti-terrorist operation” in eastern Ukraine in April, 20014 to Ukraine and other countries, American journalist Wayne Madsen reported in February, 2015 that

“on May 14, 2014, the Ukrainian Antonov was seen at Calgary International Airport in Alberta. Calgary is a major nexus for the Canadian and American military-industrial complex, hosting Raytheon Canada’s missile production division and plants producing the rotary Phalanx machine gun and infrared and targeting equipment for armored vehicles, and General Dynamics, Harris Corporation, and NovAtel factories manufacturing everything from avionics systems to satellite communications gear.”

Madsen documents the many places this massive military transport plane had appeared, including Georgia, Germany, Israel, Romania, Greece, Serbia, Italy, Scotland, Norway and the U.S. He points out that “one of the most common tactics of the CIA and U.S. military during the heyday of Iran-contra was to file false flight plans and bogus bills of lading.”

See Wayne Madsen, “American Lethal Military Aid to Ukraine is a Throwback to Iran-Contra Days,” Strategic Culture, February 3, 2015.

Plane spotters have also on more than one occasion seen huge yellow and blue Antonov’s at Edmonton and Toronto airports and posted photos on their web sites. In an e-mail, aircraft enthusiast Frank Chilleli wrote to this writer as follows: “According to the you tube videos, the larger Antonov-225 was in Toronto between November  20-28, 2014. The Antonov-225 is the largest cargo aircraft in the world and is registered under Ukraine. It was developed in the 1980s to carry the Soviet version of the space shuttle on its back.  The Antonov-124 also comes to Toronto more frequently, but I believe it is ( based from my observation) registered under Russian code. The aircraft spotters I spoke to have told me that the Antonov-225 came very early in November ( 5 a.m). I only took a picture of an Antonov-124 but as mentioned it had Russian decals and code. What is also interesting is that at times I have noticed British and German military troop transport aircrafts, but I do not always carry a camera- please watch the video below – I hope this is helpful.”

First published in TML Weekly, Special Supplement, May 20, 2017 – No. 18 and revised and updated by the author.


Canada-Ukraine Defence Agreement – An arms agreement for war



Filed under Canada, Europe, West Asia (Middle East)

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

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