Canada on Wednesday authorized the export of automatic weapons to Ukraine, citing its "steadfast" support for the security and sovereignty of a country engaged in a conflict with pro-Russian separatists.
Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland, who is of Ukrainian descent through her mother, "announced that Canada will include Ukraine in the Automatic Firearms Country Control List (AFCCL)," the government said in its official newspaper.
The change "will enable Canadian companies and individuals to apply for a permit to export certain prohibited firearms, weapons and devices to Ukraine."
Eastern Ukraine has been plagued since April 2014 by a conflict between government forces and pro-Russian separatists that has claimed more than 10,000 lives.
Kiev and Western countries accuse Russia of militarily supporting the rebels, a charge Moscow denies.
"Each permit application will be assessed on a case-by-case basis to ensure its consistency with Canada’s international obligations and foreign policy and defense priorities," the government said.
The announcement "reflects the close ties our countries share. Canada and Canadians will continue to stand with the people of Ukraine and support Ukraine's territorial integrity and sovereignty," Freeland said.
Canada was the first country to recognize Ukraine's independence in 1991 and has more than 1.3 million people of Ukrainian descent in its territory, a diaspora that arrived in successive waves over a period of 125 years.
With the addition of Ukraine, there are 40 countries to which Canada allows the export of automatic weapons.