Trudeau announces extension of Canada’s NATO mission in Baltics

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is in Latvia where he announced Canada will extend its "Operation Reassurance" in eastern Europe.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is extending Canada’s military mission in the Baltics in an effort to aid NATO allies in deterring further military aggression from Russia.

Trudeau made the announcement at a military base in Latvia on Tuesday as he continues his European trip to address the ongoing war in Ukraine. The multi-year renewal of Canada’s involvement in Operation Reassurance was originally scheduled to end a year from now.

“The troops here are not only defending Latvia or eastern Europe, they are defending all NATO allies, including Canada,” said Trudeau.

“That’s why this work is so important, especially in the face of continued Russian aggression.”

Trudeau stood alongside the prime ministers from Latvia and Spain, as well as NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, while making the announcement at the Adazi Military Base where several hundred Canadian troops and NATO allies are stationed. Canada’s Minister of National Defence Anita Anand was also in attendance.

Both Trudeau and Stoltenberg said an attack on any NATO territory would be considered an attack on all NATO allies when asked about the possibility of Russian encroachment beyond Ukraine. However, Stoltenberg noted the increased military presence in the region is an aim to prevent further war.

“NATO has never been more united and determined than we are now,” Trudeau said.

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Earlier in the day, Trudeau pledged his support for NATO countries bordering Russia and promised Canada would stand with the leaders of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia against the aggression of their neighbour to the east.

“You are literally on the front lines of this challenge with Russia,” said Trudeau after arriving in Riga, the Latvian capital, ahead of his Tuesday meetings.

“Quite frankly, you have been living not just with the military threat, not just with the history of occupation, but also, the daily use of propaganda and disinformation to try and undermine the democracy and the values you have.”

The Latvian Freedom Monument and the country’s Foreign Ministry building were both lit up in Ukrainian blue and yellow light as Trudeau arrived. He also met with the Latvian president in addition to the prime ministers of the three Baltic States.

While at the base, Trudeau held a meeting with Stoltenberg to further discuss the NATO mission in Latvia. The mission is one of four such efforts in the Baltics and Poland, designed to demonstrate the strength of the NATO alliance in the region.

Canada has several hundred troops in the region and has promised hundreds more. There are more than 3,400 Canadian soldiers currently on stand-by.

NATO allies, including Canada, have refused to police a no-fly zone over Ukraine despite continued requests from President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. NATO officials continue to condemn the Russian attacks but say a no-fly zone would lead to an escalation of war in Europe.

Trudeau announced new sanctions on Monday for 10 prominent Russian political and business leaders backing the Putin regime. Trudeau announced the sanctions during a news conference in London, England, where he was appearing alongside British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte.

The three countries announced a new coalition to provide more stable and consistent support for Ukraine, especially around the humanitarian crisis with refugees fleeing the violence.

Following his visit to Latvia, Trudeau will depart for Germany and is scheduled to visit Poland later in the week.

With files from CityNews reporter Cormac Mac Sweeney and The Canadian Press

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