Canada is boosting its role in NATO deterrence efforts in Latvia amid a major shift by the alliance to a more assertive defensive posture in the wake of Russian atrocities in Ukrainian cities of Bucha and Mariupol.
The message the alliance aims to send to Russia is clear, said Latvian Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš.
“We are dead serious about defending ourselves, so don’t even think about coming this way.”
Kariņš spoke alongside Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in a press conference on Thursday afternoon that saw Trudeau announce one Canadian general and up to six officers will be heading to Latvia to support and contribute to the leadership of the NATO’s Multinational Division North.
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The deployment comes as NATO leaders prepare to meet in Madrid, Spain, late next month. While there, they are expected to chart a more assertive defensive vision for the future of the alliance amid what Trudeau described as the “spectacularly poor” decision by Russia to invade Ukraine in February.
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“We realize that we may, we do, have to reassess the risk posture and how much we need to stand together against potential Russian incursion and aggression and that is a conversation we are having towards Madrid and we will certainly be having in Madrid,” Trudeau said.
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He added that the longstanding operating assumptions of NATO have been that in the event a member is invaded by Russia, other members would respond under Article 5 to push them back out.
But the massacres and atrocities committed by Russians against Ukrainians fundamentally change that.
“The other thing that has given people pause is Bucha, is Mariupol, is the atrocities that Russians are committing in territory they occupied,” Trudeau said.
“The idea that there would be even an understanding that ‘the Russians could advance but then we’d come in and push them back’ as something that is in any way acceptable is something we have to re-calculate.”
More to come…
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