Canada is set to double its military presence in Latvia, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Latvian Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš announced on Monday.
Latvian public broadcaster LSM reports on its English-language page that the planned, reinforced presence would bring Canada's deployment in Latvia, already the country's largest overseas force, to brigade strength, by 2026.
Prime Minister Trudeau made the announcement a joint press conference with Prime Minister Kariņš in Riga Monday.
Decision of Canada to double its military presence in @eFPBGLatvia is a powerful step in strengthening Eastern flank of #NATO and strong signal of Allied unity and determination. Thank you @JustinTrudeau and #Canada for the leadership in strengthening our Alliance. #WeAreNATO pic.twitter.com/4ZnSze2cK0— Krišjānis Kariņš (@krisjaniskarins) July 10, 2023
Trudeau visited Latvia en route to the NATO summit in Vilnius starting today, Tuesday.
He said: "We will not allow Russia to disrupt peace in Europe. Russia must clearly understand that it has violated almost all red lines, including the rule of law, by invading Ukraine."
Canada heads up the multi-national NATO enhanced Forward Presence (eFP) Battlegroup based at Adaži – the formation is the Latvian equivalent of Estonia's Tapa-based battlegroup – and plans to double its existing presence to brigade-size, LSM reports.
Trudeau added that other allies taking part in the eFP would also increase their presence in Latvia, with Canada's full support.
Latvian Prime Minister Kariņš, who was born and grew up in North America, thanked Canada for sticking to its commitment. "A year ago, at the NATO Summit in Madrid, it was decided that NATO battalions would be increased to brigade level. Now an agreement has been signed on how this will be done," the Latvian prime minister stressed.
The expansion is worth around €1.78 billion, and is part of a wider deployment on the part of Canada, in other countries in addition to Latvia – the latter has been Canada's most significant overseas deployment since the eFP became a reality in 2017.
Latvian Defense Minister Ināra Mūrniece meanwhile expressed gratitude towards Canada and noted the challenges which making the planned expansion a reality.
The Latvian and Canadian Defense Ministers signed a commitment on Monday at the Adaži base to increase the strength of the Canadian contingent.
The planned brigade will reach full combat readiness by 2026, LSM reports.
Canada had earlier this year already announced a significant bolstering of its presence, including a commitment to deploy 15 Leopard 2 tanks, plus supporting personnel, in Latvia.
Editor: Andrew Whyte