The Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau has announced that his country will increase its military presence in Latvia, a Baltic state neighbouring Russia, by expanding to brigade level there.
Trudeau was on a visit to Latvia ahead of a NATO summit in neighbouring Lithuania slated for Tuesday, July 11, 2023 and Wednesday, July 12, 2023.
In a joint press conference with his Latvian counterpart, Krisjanis Karins at the Adazi military base in Latvia, Trudeau averred, “We are going to more than double our presence, deploying up to an additional 1,200 members of the Canadian Armed Forces to serve and defend democracy and the rule of law.”
“Our presence in Latvia will be strengthened and it will become a brigade,” Trudeau added.
The Canadian Prime Minister iterated that the additional troops “will reinforce and enhance our land, maritime and air capabilities and support special operations in Central and Eastern Europe.”
Trudeau stated that the reinforcement will be a part of a “$2.6 billion [$2bn US] investment … which also includes the purchase of critical weapon systems and support for intelligence and cyber activities.”
“This is just one more way that Canada is stepping up to support our allies and standing up against the Kremlin’s aggression.”Justin Trudeau
Trudeau also emphasized his country’s stance on U.S decision to send cluster munitions to Ukraine, saying that Canada is opposed to using cluster munition.
“Canada was one of the countries that led on the banning of cluster munitions and we continue to be very firm that they should never be used,” he said.
Latvian President Expresses Gratitude To Canadian Prime Minister
Latvian President, Edgars Rinkevics thanked Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for the Canadian military presence in Latvia and expressed Latvia’s readiness to continue working on expanding the presence and moving towards the establishment of a combat-capable brigade.
The Presidential Chancery disclosed that during Trudeau’s meeting with Rinkevics, the support of both countries to Ukraine was discussed, as well as economic cooperation, especially in innovation, high technologies and investments.
The officials discussed the priorities of the upcoming NATO Summit in Vilnius, as well as the situation in Russia and Belarus. Rinkevics expressed his conviction that the NATO Summit in Vilnius should make progress on the Alliance’s new deterrence and defense plans.
“Latvia’s goal is the permanent deployment of air and missile defense assets in the Baltic States.
“We expect a clear roadmap for future NATO-Ukraine relations from the NATO Summit in Vilnius. I would also like to express my gratitude for Canada’s significant assistance to Ukraine.”Edgars Rinkevics
Rinkevics also welcomed Latvia’s cooperation with Canada to achieve the common goal of ending Russia’s impunity for its crimes of aggression against Ukraine.
During the conversation, Rinkevics stressed the necessity of creating a special tribunal for crimes of aggression against Ukraine to ensure full accountability, including on the part of Russia’s top leadership.
The approval of detailed defense plans for the region, including a deal on a schedule for the Canadian-led unit’s transition from a battalion to a brigade, is one of the most crucial concerns for Latvia at the NATO Vilnius Summit.