Canadian Prime Minister answered questions on Russia and Trump
At a joint press conference with Prime Minister of Latvia Maris Kucinskis in Riga on July 10, 2018, having declared an expected renewal of the Canadian mandate for the NATO battlegroup stationed at the Adazi Military Base, Prime Minister of Canada Justin Trudeau said that he hoped Russia would choose to become a more positive actor in world affairs than it had chosen to be in the past.
Despite the fact that the NATO Operation Reassurance was launched in 2014 to defend Eastern and Central Europe from a potential Russian threat, following the annexation of Crimea and fighting in Ukraine, Justin Trudeau, announcing the extension of Canada’s military mission in Latvia until March 2023, didn’t openly mention Russia until he was directly asked by journalists. Then he stated that Russia’s interference in sovereignty and stability of different states, together with the country’s illegal actions – in Crimea, Donbass and the UK, to name a few – cannot go on. “Russia continues to be a country that is looking to disrupt and destabilize the global rules-based order and, basically, cause problems on the international stage. We will continue to engage with Russia in constructive ways as much as we can to highlight that it is our expectations that they would begin to play a more positive role at the global stage,” says Canadian Prime Minister.
“But at this point, I have to say, that we continue to have a difficult relationship with Russia simply because their actions are not consistent with what we as a democracy, we as a values-based country which respects the rules-based order in the world […] could accept or expect.”
In the course of the event, journalists were also interested in Trudeau’s expectations of the upcoming Trump-Putin meeting scheduled for July 16 in Helsinki, especially taking into consideration the recent G7 Summit tensions and the US President’s criticism that NATO members don’t meet their commitments on defence spending. By the way, the Canadian Prime Minister indirectly addressed this US concern, having proclaimed that Canada’s defence policy intended to increase the annual funding for defence by more than 70 percent in 10 years. As for the US-Russia meeting, he stated that as any meeting between the United States and Russia, this one would be “inevitably significant with potential positive or negative consequences.” Thus, Canada is keen to see the meeting’s substance and conclusions. Trudeau also pointed out that he preferred negotiations even with adversaries as a way of moving forward, although he is sure that the upcoming Trump-Putin meeting will be discussed at the NATO Summit in Brussels on July 11-12. The task of NATO, in this case, will be to reaffirm the alliance’s response to Russia’s violations of the international law.
Canada’s original military mandate in Latvia is due to end on March 31, 2019. The country extended this NATO commitment for four more years and will increase the number of its soldiers deployed to Latvia from 450 to 540. Beyond that, Canada’s contribution will also include the presence of CF-18 fighter jets, with bilateral training and air policing, as well as cyber capabilities. During his first visit to Latvia on July 10, 2018, Prime Minister Trudeau visited Canadian and other soldiers at the Adazi Military Base, accompanied by Latvian Prime Minister Maris Kucinskis, as well as Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland, Canada’s Minister of Defence Harjit Singh Sajjan and General Jonathan Vance.