TRENTON: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Tuesday that Canada will extend its NATO mission in Latvia by four years while increasing the number of troops.
He made the announcement in Latvia against the backdrop of the NATO Summit that begins Wednesday in Brussels, where U.S. President Donald Trump is expected to tell members that they need to carry their fair share of the alliance’s economic load.
Increasing troops to 540 from 455 and extending the mission to 2023 is also seen as a move to curb Russian President Vladimir Putin’s aggression in the Baltic States.
Indeed, the mission led by Canada is one of four NATO multinational groups in the Baltics and is a direct result of the Russian illegal annexation of part of Ukraine in 2014.
“We certainly hope that the message is passed clearly to President Putin that his actions in destabilizing and disregarding the international rules-based order that has been successfully underpinned by NATO amongst others over the past 75 years or so is extremely important,” Trudeau said in Riga after a meeting with Latvian Prime Minister Maris Kucinskis.
“We certainly hope that Russia will choose to become a more positive actor in world affairs than it has chosen to be in the past.”
Canada leads one mission in the Baltics, with the others headed by Germany in Lithuania, Britain in Estonia and the U.S. in Poland.
The U.S. mission could be in jeopardy because Trump has threatened to leave NATO if other nations do not increase their financial contributions to the alliance. And with Trump set to meet with Putin on July 16 there is a fear that he may offer concessions that undermine NATO. Former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs in the Barack Obama administration said the two summits “will either restore American global leadership or kill it off, depending on how he plays our hand”, reported the Canadian Global Affairs Institute which comments on Canadian defense, diplomacy, trade and development. AA