OTTAWA – NEWS – Canada’s Defence Minister Anita Anand met with Latvian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defence Artis Pabriks during his visit to Canada.
Minister Anand and Minister Pabriks condemned Russia’s egregious, illegal, and unwarranted attack against the territorial integrity, sovereignty, and independence of Ukraine. Minister Anand and Minister Pabriks reiterated their calls on Russia to immediately cease all hostile and provocative actions against Ukraine and withdraw all military and proxy forces from the country.
The Ministers agreed that Russia’s attack on Ukraine is also an attack on the rules-based international order, and consequently, that NATO’s deterrence and defensive measures on the Alliance’s eastern flank are more important than ever.
In this regard, Minister Pabriks acknowledged Canada’s contributions to the security of NATO’s eastern flank, including Latvia. Since 2017, Canada has led NATO’s enhanced Forward Presence Battle Group in Latvia, and approximately 540 Canadian personnel are deployed to the country.
Minister Pabriks thanked Canada for its decision to extend Operation REASSURANCE for a number of years beyond 2023 and to deploy additional military capabilities to NATO’s eastern flank.
Minister Anand confirmed that the deployment of up to 460 additional CAF personnel announced by Canada in February 2022 is well underway, and provided Minister Pabriks with specific updates:
- At sea, Canada is doubling its contribution to NATO maritime forces in the region. On Saturday, March 19, Minister Anand attended the departure ceremony for HMCS Halifax, which is on its way to join Standing NATO Maritime Group 1, with over 250 sailors and an embarked maritime helicopter on board. HMCS Halifax will join HMCS Montreal, which is already deployed to European waters.
- On land, Canada is adding new military capabilities and personnel to the Battle Group in Latvia. An advance party for the artillery battery with forward observers and an unmanned aerial system have already been deployed to Latvia. On March 19, an RCAF CC-177 aircraft departed 8 Wing Trenton carrying Canadian Army members and M777 artillery guns to Latvia. Canada also will be contributing to the Multinational Division North and is currently considering what that contribution would look like.
- In the air, a CP-140 Aurora Maritime Patrol aircraft has already been transferred to NATO command, and Canada will commence its next rotation of NATO Enhanced Air Policing in Romania this summer.
Minister Anand also reiterated that Canada has up to 3,400 troops pledged to the NATO Response Force (NRF), to be deployed if directly requested by NATO. This is a mix of Army, Air Force and Maritime capabilities.
During their discussions, Minister Anand and Minister Pabriks met virtually with Canadian Army personnel stationed at CFB Valcartier, who will be departing for Latvia today as part of a Canadian Army Artillery Battery. The Ministers thanked these soldiers for their work in support of the NATO Alliance and wished them a safe journey to Latvia.
The two ministers agreed on the importance of continuing to provide Ukraine with comprehensive military aid. Minister Anand shared that Canada has announced six tranches of military aid to Ukraine since February 2022, and confirmed that much of this aid has been delivered to Ukrainian authorities and is making a difference in the current conflict.
The two Ministers agreed that both Canadians and Latvians benefit from the strong defence relationship between Canada and Latvia, and resolved to continue working together as NATO Allies to address current and emerging security challenges.