Canada Trudeau expected to extend mission in Latvia

05:31  10 july  2018
05:31  10 july  2018 Source:   msn.com

Justin Trudeau to visit Canadian troops in Latvia ahead of NATO summit

  Justin Trudeau to visit Canadian troops in Latvia ahead of NATO summit Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will visit Latvia before heading to the NATO summit in Brussels next week. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will visit Canadian troops in Latvia before attending the NATO The Prime Minister's Office says the visit will be an opportunity for Trudeau to reaffirm Canada's commitment to the NATO alliance and Euro-Atlantic security. The Canadian-led multinational NATO battle group was established in Latvia as the alliance's response to Russia's surprise annexation of Crimea in 2014 and its invasion of eastern Ukraine.

Trudeau is expected to announce an extension of Canada's leadership role in the NATO mission in Latvia . (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press). The Liberal government plans to extend its NATO leadership role in Latvia for several years, CBC News has learned.

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is expected to commit Canada to spend several more years leading a NATO battle group in Latvia with the increase, Canadian defence spending will top out at 1.4 per cent of GDP, and it's unclear to what degree extending an existing mission will satisfy

a close up of a plane© Provided by thecanadianpress.com

OTTAWA - Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is expected to commit Canada to spend several more years leading a NATO battle group in Latvia — news that will come Tuesday on the eve of the alliance's summit in Brussels, where leaders will be braced for a showdown with U.S. President Donald Trump over military spending.

Trudeau arrived in Latvia late Monday, one day before he'll visit the approximately 450 Canadian troops leading the multinational force that was first announced in 2016 as a check against Russian aggression in eastern Europe.

That will serve as the backdrop for the news that Canada is renewing the mission, the current three-year mandate for which is currently run out on March 31, 2019, sources told The Canadian Press, speaking on condition of anonymity in order to discuss details not yet made public.

Trudeau set to extend Canada's leadership role in NATO's Latvia mission

  Trudeau set to extend Canada's leadership role in NATO's Latvia mission The Liberal government plans to extend its NATO leadership role in Latvia for several years, CBC News has learned. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will  "deliver a strong message" of solidarity during his bilateral visit to the Baltic state, said several sources from Defence, Foreign Affairs and other government departments. Canada's mission leadership role faces a self-imposed government deadline of spring 2019. It is now expected to continue for at least another three years. Announcing the extension might serve the Liberals well in the current political climate.

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Such an extension has been widely expected. Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan has asserted numerous times that Canada remains committed to leading the mission for the foreseeable future.

The Canadian-led battle group is one of four in the region, and includes troops from Albania, the Czech Republic, Italy, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia and Spain. Germany leads a similar force in Lithuania, Britain leads one in Estonia and the U.S. leads in Poland.

"We're not here trying to take an aggressive posture. This is about deterrence. We would like Russia to get back to normality," Sajjan told The Canadian Press in January during a joint interview with Latvian Defence Minister Raimonds Bergmanis.

"This will take some time. And Canada is committed for the long term."

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The prime minister is expected to use the extension to defend Canada from criticism from Trump that America's northern neighbour is not spending enough on defence.

Canada and other countries have faced U.S. pressure to meet the alliance's target of spending two per cent of GDP on defence and 20 per cent of defence budgets on equipment — a target member states agreed to in 2014 at a NATO summit in Wales.

Trump has sent letters to the leaders of several NATO allies, including Canada, expressing "growing frustration" over the fact the targets are still not being met by the majority of alliance nations.

The Liberal government has repeatedly argued that has Canada consistently contributed to NATO operations and efforts — as evidenced by its role in Latvia — and committed to grow funding for defence by 70 per cent over the coming decade.

But critics have noted that even with the increase, Canadian defence spending will top out at 1.4 per cent of GDP, and it's unclear to what degree extending an existing mission will satisfy Trump's demands for Canada and others to put up more cash.

Canada extending mission in Latvia

  Canada extending mission in Latvia Canada extending mission in LatviaTrudeau made the announcement in Riga following a meeting with Latvian Prime Minister Maris Kucinskis and indicated that he hopes the increased Canadian commitment to Latvia gets the attention of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

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And while Canada's role in the Latvian mission is positive, it is a relatively small one compared to ongoing NATO missions in Afghanistan and Kosovo — two operations that are highlighted in annual reports from NATO secretary general Jans Stoltenberg, said David Perry, a senior defence analyst with the Canadian Global Affairs Institute.

"We're doing good things in Latvia, we're one of four countries that are leading the battle groups ... but the two that the secretary general tracks in his report, we have five out of about 18,000 troops."

The Liberal government last year rebuffed requests from the Trump administration and NATO for allies to redouble their efforts in Afghanistan, including a specific appeal for Canadian police to help train Afghan security forces.

France, meanwhile, is expected to pledge this week that it will meet the two per cent spending target within the next seven years, while Germany says it will reach 1.5 per cent of GDP by 2024.

German newspaper Bild am Sonntag quoted Stoltenberg as saying, "One and a half per cent is not two per cent."

Trudeau not planning one-on-one meeting with Trump at NATO summit

  Trudeau not planning one-on-one meeting with Trump at NATO summit Any encounter between U.S. President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau over the next two days will happen on the margins of the NATO Summit in Brussels, not in any deliberate, structured bilateral meeting. The NATO meeting represents the first time the two leaders have been in the same room together since the disastrous G7 summit in Charlevoix, Quebec last month — and there's no sign at all of a thaw in their chilly relationship. The Prime Minister's Office said that, at the moment, no face-to-face meeting has been planned between Trudeau and Trump.

Monday-Tuesday: Mr. Trudeau left Ottawa on Monday morning for Riga, capital of Latvia , where 450 Canadian troops are part of a NATO mission Tuesday-Wednesday: Brussels is Mr. Trump’s first stop on a week-long European tour. He is expected to press NATO allies to pay more for their joint defence.

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Any extension in Latvia will nonetheless be welcomed by the country's government, which has turned to Canada and NATO for support and reassurance in the face of Russia's recent attempts to flex its muscle and exert its influence across eastern Europe.

"This Latvian enhanced forward presence mission altogether in the Baltics and Poland is one of the most successful missions of NATO," said Karlis Eihenbaums, the Latvian ambassador to Canada.

"We feel much more stable as a people and also the NATO eastern flank is much more stable. You can ask our neighbouring countries which are not NATO members, like Sweden or Finland, what they think, they are very much for this presence ... they are very happy that Canadians are there."

Eihenbaums said security is also a concern when it comes to trade — Latvia has been trying to grow its exports to Canada under the Canada-EU trade agreement.

"In order to trade we have to have safety," he said. "We should not stop (the Latvian mission), probably we should go further because we have to think about the air, we have to think about the water, we have to think about the seas."

— With files from Lee Berthiaume in Ottawa; follow @ReporterTeresa on Twitter

Note to readers: This is a corrected story. An earlier version said the news of Canada's mission extension in Latvia would come Wednesday.

Cyberattacks targeting Canadian troops in Latvia seem to be easing off .
Cyberattacks targeting Canadian troops in Latvia seem to be easing off Prime Minister Justin Trudeau arrived late Monday in the capital Riga for a bilateral visit that will include both a state visit and time spent with soldiers deployed as part of the NATO deterrence mission in the Baltic.

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