Canada to send 1,000 soldiers to Latvia for NATO brigade
Canadian troops during a NATO drill in Ukraine.
Canada will send 1,000 troops to Latvia to join one of NATO’s battalions that are being assembled in Eastern Europe in a show of force against Russia.
The Canadian Defense Ministry said in a statement on Thursday that the country will “establish and lead” a high-readiness brigade that will “contribute to NATO’s enhanced forward presence in Eastern and Central Europe.”
The statement also said that further details regarding the deployment will be provided at the upcoming NATO summit in Poland.
The Canadian soldiers will be part of a 4,000-strong NATO force that will be deployed to the Baltic States and Poland in order to deter what is claimed to be Russian threats.
The US, Germany and Britain will also send soldiers to join NATO’s four battalions in Eastern Europe.
“As a responsible partner in the world, Canada stands side by side with its NATO allies working to deter aggression and assure peace and stability in Europe,” said Canadian Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan.
Canada’s decision reportedly came after US President Barack Obama urged Canada to contribute more to NATO in a speech in the Canadian Parliament on Wednesday.
NATO plans to expand its military presence in Eastern Europe amid the conflict in Ukraine and has held numerous war games recently.
Some 2,000 NATO forces began a large-scale military exercise in western Ukraine earlier this week which will last until July 8.
Last month, NATO held another 10-day military drill, involving some 31,000 troops from Poland, the US and 17 other nations in Poland.
Russia, wary of the increased presence of NATO troops close to its borders, threatened to take unspecified measures to respond to the increased activities by the Western military bloc.
NATO has stepped up its military build-up near Russia’s borders since it suspended all ties with Moscow in April 2014 after the Black Sea Crimean Peninsula re-integrated into the Russian Federation following a referendum.
Moscow has repeatedly repudiated NATO’s expansion near its borders, saying such a move poses a threat to both regional and international peace.