Canada is proud to assume the leadership role in NATO’s multinational battalion-size battle group in Latvia, said Canadian Foreign Minister Stephane Dion during his visit to Riga today.
Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics (Unity) told the media after meeting with Dion that precise decisions as to the composition of the battle group will be made at the NATO defense ministers meeting this autumn.
According to Rinkevics, many details are yet to be coordinated. "We still have to do much work related with the judicial issues, infrastructure, logistics, supplies," he stated.
Regarding a possible reaction from Russia, the minister noted the enhancement of the Russian armed forces as well as Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014. “Events in eastern Ukraine are a significant aspect why NATO decided to strengthen its eastern flank,” Rinkevics said, pointing out that the number of troops to be deployed in the region is not comparable to the 10,000 Russian troops near NATO’s eastern borders.
Dion is visiting Latvia today, following the NATO Warsaw Summit.
The Canadian official plans to meet with Defense Minister Raimonds Bergmanis (Greens/Farmers). Dion is scheduled to visit the Riga-based NATO Strategic Communications Centre of Excellence, and meet with its head Janis Sarts.
The officials are expected to discuss recent developments in bilateral and transatlantic co-operation, the results of the NATO Summit in Warsaw, and further steps in the implementation of NATO policy of deterrence and defense and the enhancement of the Allied presence in the Baltic States.
Dion will also participate in a round table discussion with representatives of academia and non-governmental organisations.
In recognition of the 25th anniversary since the renewal of diplomatic relations between Latvia and Canada, the Foreign Minister of Canada and the State Secretary of the Latvian Foreign Ministry, Andrejs Pildegovics, will take part in a ceremony for planting an ash-leaved maple tree in Riga’s Bastejkalns Park.
A battle group of Canadian troops as well as heavy equipment will be deployed to Latvia soon to discourage Russian expansionism, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced on Friday. Canada will take the leadership role in NATO’s multinational battalion-size battle group in Latvia, therefore becoming one of the four framework nations to ensure the Alliance’s extended presence in Eastern Europe. Latvia has welcomed this decision, the Latvian Foreign Ministry stated earlier.