Canadian Prime Minister is paving his way to NATO Summit in Brussels
On July 10, 2018 – on the eve of NATO Summit in Brussels and the following Trump-Putin meeting in Helsinki, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will visit about 450 Canadian troops leading one of the alliance’s battlegroups which is stationed in Latvia in response to the 2014 Russian annexation of Crimea and its further involvement in the Ukrainian conflict.
Since the very beginning of the destabilization in the region, Canada, as a country with an impressive, politically active Ukrainian minority, has taken a strong stand against the Russian aggression. On a state level, it has included official critique, suspended cooperation and diplomatic contacts, sanctions, the expulsion of diplomats, etc. On a NATO level, Canada, as a contributor to the alliance’s Operation Reassurance which was launched in 2014 to prevent conflict, protecting Eastern and Central Europe from a potential Russian threat, agreed to direct its military forces to one of four battalions in Latvia. The remaining Forward Presence battlegroups are headed by Germany (Lithuania), the UK (Estonia) and the USA (Poland).
Thus, in July 2016, Canada renewed a three-year mandate of the Operation Reassurance and, in June 2017, deployed Canadian soldiers at the Ādaži Military Base, where they were joined by Albanians, Italians, Poles, Slovaks, Slovenians and Spaniards. According to the Canadian Armed Forces, Canada’s contribution includes headquarters staff, an infantry company with light armoured vehicles, military police, and logistical and communications support. The country intends to spend approximately 350 million dollars in the course of its mandate which is due to end on March 31, 2019. Besides that, under the Operation Reassurance, Canada deployed its frigate HMCS St. John’s which joined Standing NATO Maritime Group One on January 18, 2018, and it periodically sends a CF-188 Hornet Air Task Force to Europe.
As reported by the Globe and Mail, Trudeau is expected to renew the Canadian mandate after the future NATO Summit in Brussels to defend his country from Trump’s criticism on the lack of alliance’s defence spending. In this regard, NATO Summit which is about to start in a day reminds us of the recent G7 meeting in Montreal which ended up with the US President’s call to readmit Russia to the group instead of further opposing it. And having set US partners aside, Trump made his way to Kim Jong-un. In this sense, NATO Summit in Brussels has all the chances to repeat the G7 meeting’s fate. Trump-Putin talks have been already scheduled. And while the alliance is hoping to reassure their strong deterrence and defence posture on Russia, the US President is disappointed with the fact that NATO members don’t spend two percent of their GDP on defence, not meeting their 2014 NATO Wales commitments.