“The world has just become a much more dangerous place, and we must do all that we can to stand as one and be ready.”
These were the harrowing words of Gen. Wayne Eyre in a statement released Thursday about the current Ukraine crisis.
The statement was a grave reflection on the ongoing state of the world and specifically the ramifications this crisis would have for Europe.
“To those currently deployed to the region, and to all those who will, or may join them in the coming weeks and months, know that your work, which has contributed greatly to our Alliance’s deterrence and defence efforts, is now more vital than ever.”
“For many Canadians, Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine represents the return of history. The return of a time of struggle and great power competition: when larger nations employed force to conquer their neighbours, redrawing borders in the hopes of regaining a past glory that was never truly theirs. This attack is an attack against the international rules based order, with changes to the geopolitical situation that will reverberate for years to come.
“While the future is uncertain, the events in Ukraine have underscored the primacy of our core mission as a fighting force: the defence of Canada and Canadian interests.
“These events have also given me cause to reflect upon the paradox that lies at the heart of a professional military. We train our entire lives – spending blood, tears, toil, and sweat – to prepare ourselves to fight in defence of our homeland, against threats we dearly hope will never come. For our brothers and sisters in Ukraine, that fight is upon them now.”
Years of Support in Ukraine
The statement also acknowledged the years of work close to 3,000 Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) members have undertaken in the region and how the unfolding events may cause distress.
“Your thoughts, like mine, will no doubt be with your friends and comrades as they face the ultimate test. This is only natural.
“Know that we, and our allies, have done everything our Governments have asked of us to help prepare Ukraine for these challenging times. No matter the outcome of this invasion, the training you provided, to more than 33,000 members of the Ukrainian Security Forces, will be invaluable in the days to come. You have helped save lives that would otherwise have been lost, and you have helped prepare the Ukrainian Forces to fight tyranny and unbridled aggression,” stated the Chief of the Defence Staff.
The CDS noted how the CAF’s work with its allies is now more important than ever. This work includes eight years of almost 13,000 military members deployed on NATO Assurance Measures throughout Central and Eastern Europe on Operation REASSURANCE.
The specific work the CDS chose to highlight includes: supporting the initial Land Task Force in Poland; the current enhanced Forward Presence in Latvia; “near-persistent” presence in Euro-Atlantic waters as part of NATO Standing Naval Forces; and support to NATO air policing efforts in Romania, Iceland, and Lithuania over the years.
Future of CAF in Region
Although there are no direct orders for the CAF in light of the current Ukrainian crisis, Gen. Eyre hinted that nothing is off the table with what military members could be asked to do in the future.
“To those currently deployed to the region, and to all those who will, or may join them in the coming weeks and months, know that your work, which has contributed greatly to our Alliance’s deterrence and defence efforts, is now more vital than ever.
“The rest of us will continue to be prepared to do what our government asks of us, in support of our country and our fellow Canadians.”