Above images courtesy of Minister Anand’s Twitter account.
During his visit, Latvian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defence Artis Pabriks reaffirmed his country’s partnership with Canada. The minister also expressed his appreciation of the support the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) offer in Eastern Europe.
Minister Pabrikis met with Canadian Defence Minister Anita Anand in March. The ministers discussed various topics during the meeting, such as the Russian invasion and Canada’s contributions to NATO’s Forward Presence Battle Group in Latvia.
“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,” stated a news release from the Department of National Defence.
Russian Attacks Condemned
Both defence ministers made it a point to condemn the Russian attacks on Ukraine’s sovereignty. They also called upon Russian President Vladimir Putin to immediately cease all hostilities and withdraw its military.
“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,” read the press release.
The two ministers also agreed on the importance of providing Ukraine with “comprehensive” military aid. According to the DND release, 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.”
Canada currently has 3,400 troops pledged to the NATO Response Force to be deployed if and when NATO requests them. They are a mix of Army, Air Force, and Navy.
Canada’s Support in Eastern Europe
During their meeting, Minister Pabriks acknowledged Canada’s contribution to Eastern Europe, specifically in Latvia. Since 2017, Canada has led NATO’s enhanced Forward Presence Battle Group in Latvia. Currently, approximately 540 Canadian personnel are deployed to Latvia.
“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,” stated the press release.
Specifically, Canada has contributed by:
- 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.
During their meeting, Minister Anand and Minister Pabriks met virtually with Canadian Army personnel stationed at CFB Valcartier, who departed for Latvia as part of a Canadian Army Artillery Battery later that week.