More Canadian Troops Heading to Latvia, Trudeau Says at NATO Summit

MADRID – Canada will send more troops to Latvia as part of its commitment to improve and strengthen the NATO battle group it leads there, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Thursday.

The Canadian-led NATO battle group is made up of some 2,000 troops, including 700 Canadians, and is one of eight such units based in Eastern Europe designed to deter and defend against any Russian invasion.

Canada signed an agreement on the sidelines of a major NATO summit on Wednesday to convert the battle group into a brigade, which involves adding more troops and equipment to bolster its fighting capability.

Defense Minister Anita Anand said at the time that it was too early to confirm whether Canada would deploy more members of the Armed Forces, but Trudeau pledged during a closing news conference on Thursday to do just that.

However, the prime minister stopped short of giving an expected figure.

Anand said Wednesday that Canada would work with the 10 allied partners operating in Latvia to determine what capabilities the brigade needs before deciding how many troops will be needed on the ground. That work has begun but is still in the early stages, he said.

The Canadian-led battle group is NATO’s most multinational battle group, which Trudeau described as an advantage that could serve as a model for others.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau ended his meeting with leaders of the NATO military alliance in Madrid by announcing more military aid for Ukraine. Trudeau says Canada is in the final stages of talks to supply Ukraine with up to 39 armored combat support vehicles to help it fight Russia. (THE CANADIAN PRESS)

“In Latvia, we are actually redefining a concept that is so important to NATO, which is interoperability,” Trudeau said in a statement from the Palacio de la Moncloa in Madrid, where he had an official visit with the Spanish president on Thursday. Peter Sanchez.

“Making sure that all these friendly allied militaries, who do things slightly differently with sometimes slightly different equipment, can work together in harmony is not only important to being able to do it in times of conflict… it’s actually an advantage we have if we do it right,” he said.

In his final speech at the summit, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the Western military alliance has a “fundamental responsibility” to prevent the war in Ukraine from spreading to other countries, while making it clear to Moscow that it would “protect every inch of its territory”. NATO territory.“

Trudeau’s attendance at the NATO summit capped a nine-day trip that included earlier stops in Rwanda and Germany for the Commonwealth and G7 heads of government meeting and focused heavily on Russia’s war in Ukraine. .

To that end, the prime minister announced more military equipment for Ukraine on Thursday, saying Canada is in the final stages of talks to supply Ukraine with up to 39 armored combat support vehicles to help it fight Russia.

It also pledged to give Ukraine six Canadian-made drone cameras, to supplement the roughly 50 cameras shipped earlier this year.

Trudeau said his government’s decision to send drone cameras and armored fighting vehicles was based on discussions with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and ministers in his government, who requested such military equipment.

“These exceptional Canadian-built cameras on drones have been incredibly helpful in protecting Ukrainians and pushing back Russia’s illegal invasion,” Trudeau said. “The light armored vehicles that we will send will also be extremely effective.”

The armored vehicles are part of an order for some 360 ​​new, modern transport units originally intended for the Canadian Armed Forces, a Canadian government official told a briefing in Madrid that was provided on the condition not to be named. They will be used in combat zones to transport Ukrainian troops, which currently only have light armored vehicles.

The planned equipment purchase means Canada is on track to spend the $500 million set aside in the 2022 budget for military support to Ukraine.

The prime minister also confirmed that a new NATO center of excellence for climate change and security will be located in Montreal, and that Canada plans to host the North American office for a network of NATO innovation hubs called the NATO Accelerator. Defense Innovation for the North Atlantic (DIANA).

“Russia’s illegal, unjustifiable and horrific invasion of Ukraine requires us all to come together,” Trudeau said. “It was very, very clear in this meeting here in Madrid that all of us have already committed to being there to support Ukraine because they are fighting not only for their own territory but for our democracies.”

Canada announced at the start of the NATO summit that it would strengthen its diplomatic presence in Central and Eastern Europe by converting existing offices in Estonia, Lithuania and Slovakia into full-fledged embassies with resident ambassadors and strengthening the Canadian presence at the embassy in Latvia.

The prime minister also said that Canada will participate in the G20 summit expected to take place in Bali in November, even if Russian President Vladimir Putin also attends.

Trudeau said he hopes all G7 countries, which also include the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Japan, will participate even if Russia remains a full member of the G20.

He says that the talks on the global economy that will take place at the G20 summit are “too important”, and Canada needs to counter the voice that Russia will have around that table.

“It is too important that we are there to counter the voice and the lies that Russia may present,” Trudeau said.

“There are still several months before that, and anything can happen.”

The NATO meeting followed a Group of Seven summit in the Bavarian Alps in Germany, where the leaders pledged other support for Ukraine, including humanitarian assistance.

Before that, the prime minister was in Kigali, Rwanda, for a meeting of Commonwealth heads of government whose countries were feeling the global impacts of the war, including the energy crisis and the threat of famine.

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on June 30, 2022.

Note to readers: This is a corrected story. An earlier version contained the wrong word in a quote attributed to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.


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