Canadian minister: Canada wants to achieve de-escalation, dialogue in Baltic region
As the lead nation of the multinational NATO battalion to be deployed in Latvia next year, Canadawill seek to achieve de-escalation in the Baltic region and dialogue to avoid misunderstandings with Russia during military exercises, Canada's Minister of Defence Harjit Sajjan said in an interview with a Latvian magazine.
The battalion in Latvia will comprise of over 1,000 troops, of which 455 will be contributed by Canada, but the number of troops has no strategic importance; it signals the ability to make decisions and to cooperate and demonstrates the unity of NATO member states, Sajjan told weekly magazine "ir" in an interview.
The size of the mission is not important, he stressed; what matters is how they do it.
The alliance has always been open to dialogue, the Canadian minister said, explaining that NATO's intention was to organize battle group training in a transparent manner in order to avoid any misunderstandings and escalation.
A major increase in troop numbers sends the wrong signal to other countries, while small deterrence operations will send the right one, noted the Canadian minister.
Demonstration of military tactics was not their goal, Sajjan said, adding that Canada, the US and the UK arriving in the Baltics to show their determination within NATO was a very important message of deterrence, but that dialogue was the key.
Sajjan stated that Canada was open to a meaningful dialogue in order to find ways to de-escalate the situation — not only in Europe but elsewhere as well — in order to find ways to achieve a better life for everyone and deal with the real challenges with which they are faced.