Canadian defense minister: Canada will lead fourth NATO deterrent battalion

German defense minister Ursula von der Leyen (left) and her Canadian counterpart Harjit Sajjan in Berlin, Jun. 1, 2016 (AFP/DPA/Michael Kappeler)
7/1/2016 8:48 AM
Category: News

Canada confirmed that it would send a battalion-sized military unit to Eastern Europe as part of NATO’s efforts to strengthen its deterrent.

Canadian defense minister Harjit Sajjan told the Wall Street Journal that Canada was on the way to becoming one of the four main contributors to NATO’s Eastern European deterrent force. The troops to be moved to the area will arrive as part of the agreements made in the alliance in February, after which the United States, the United Kingdom, and Germany already agreed to leading a battalion each.

NATO had difficulties finding a member ready to lead a fourth battalion, as both Norway and Denmark excluded the possibility of taking on the responsibility.

Sajjan confirmed in a phone interview that Canada had now agreed to leading the fourth battalion.

Details will be discussed and announced at the alliance’s upcoming Warsaw summit next week.

According to NATO diplomatic circles, Canadian troops will be stationed in Latvia, the U.S. battalion in Poland, the German troops in Lithuania, and the UK’s battalion in Estonia. Denmark and France will contribute smaller units.

“NATO was created as a deterrent, and we need to make sure that it is equipped accordingly,” Sajjan said.

Sources had indicated earlier that Sajjan was given the task by the Canadian government to send a battalion, or about 1,000 troops, to Latvia. The official details surrounding the operations of the four battalions will be clarified at next week’s summit in Poland.

NATO’s council decided on Jun. 14 to increase the alliance’s military presence along its Eastern flank by sending a battalion each to Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland.

The plan calls for a leading member state for each battalion, to which other members will then contribute smaller units. The Warsaw summit next week will clarify which members will contribute, and to what extent.

Editor: Dario Cavegn

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