Canada to more than double military presence in Latvia, says Trudeau

Representative image of Military aid to Ukraine. Image credit: Pixaby

Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau reportedly said in his meeting with Latvian President Edgars Rinkevics earlier in the day that additional personnel will reinforce and enhance Canadian land, maritime and air capabilities and support special operations in central and eastern Europe.

He also added that $2.6 billion has been set aside, including a $1.4-billion commitment made in the 2022 federal budget.

“Canada and all countries must be clear that Russia’s unprovoked…is a threat to freedom, international law, human rights and the whole set of shared democratic values that generations of soldiers have fought to defend,” Trudeau was reported saying.

Canada had pledged more than a year ago to increase the size and capability of the battle group as part of NATO’s efforts to reinforce its eastern flank in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine during signing of an agreement between the two countries.

In a joint press conference with Latvian Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins at the Adazi military base outside Riga on Monday, Trudeau said that the plans to grow Canada’s presence at ─Çdazi will exceed its current capacity, which is already strained.

Trudeau also revealed that it will take another three years for Canada to grow a multinational NATO battle group in Latvia to a combat-ready brigade.

Last month, when Defence Minister Anita Anand announced that a Leopard 2 tank squadron with 15 tanks and about 130 personnel would join the mission starting this fall, Canada has also pledged to buy air defence and coastal defence systems for the mission.

NATO leaders, including Trudeau, are expected to gather in Lithuania’s capital city beginning on Tuesday for their annual summit to discuss making the current two per cent of GDP target a new minimum spend.