Harjit S. Sajjan Minister of National Defence, MP for Vancouver South

Ottawa: Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan says the federal government is concerned about a new outbreak of fighting in Ukraine and is looking at ways to “improve” Canada’s military support to the country.

“I’m looking at the options right now in terms of how we can improve our support, what changes that we need to make,” Sajjan said Wednesday.

“But one thing is for sure, that Canada remains committed to Ukraine.”

Government forces and Russian-backed rebels have traded heavy fire in eastern Ukraine over the last few days, killing at least 19 people and injuring dozens more.

The surge in violence is threatening to overturn a two-year-old ceasefire that has been repeatedly broken by both sides, but helped minimize bloodshed.

Canada sent about 200 troops to Ukraine in the summer of 2015 to help train government forces, but the mission is set to expire at the end of March.

The Ukrainian government has publicly asked Canada to extend the mission and while the Liberal government has been non-committal, Sajjan’s comments suggest an ongoing Canadian military presence.

“I’ve always said when we send troops, we want to make sure they have a meaningful impact” he said.

“And we are having a meaningful impact in Ukraine.”

Conservative defence critic James Bezan said he hopes the Liberal government not only extends the current training mission, but expands Canada’s military support in other ways.

That includes providing military equipment to the Ukrainians and satellite imagery, as the previous Conservative government did.

The Canadian Press