Canada will send non-lethal military supplies to Ukraine to help it protect border from Russia

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Canada says it is sending non-lethal military equipment to Ukraine to help the country protect its eastern border against Russia.

Defense Minister Rob Nicholson said Thursday that Canada will deliver helmets, ballistic eyewear, protective vests, first aid kits, tents and sleeping bags to Ukrainian troops.

Russia has massed thousands of troops on the border, and NATO pledges to provide Ukraine with assistance. Pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine have fought the government for months.

Canada's announcement follows sanctions and travel bans by Ottawa against several top Russian politicians and groups with ties to President Vladimir Putin's government. Moscow responded with a ban on Canadian food imports for a year.

Ukraine and Western countries have accused Moscow of backing the separatists with weapons and soldiers, a claim the Russian government has denied.