Canada extends leadership of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation battlegroup in Latvia for four years

Patty Hajdu

At a press conference on Tuesday morning, Trudeau assured reporters that Canada will continue to contribute to security in the Baltic Sea region: "These are uncertain times and I assured the Prime Minister Canada will continue to step up, as we always do".

During his visit, Trudeau will meet with Latvian Prime Minister Maris Kucinskis and President Raimonds Vejonis.

Trudeau is making a point to spend time with the 450 Canadian military personnel that are embedded in Latvia as part of a key North Atlantic Treaty Organisation battle group, established as the alliance's response to Russia's surprise annexation of Crimea in 2014 and its invasion of eastern Ukraine.

"Our first - and really our only consideration - was what served the Canadian national interest, what served Canadians, what was appropriate to do for Canada given our role in the world and the very great interest we, as Canadians, have in a functioning, rules-based global order", Freeland said.

"We have to build that democracy and strengthen it", Trudeau said at a German Marshall Fund event on the sidelines of the two-day summit.

The NATO Secretary General announced that in future the Alliance will be able to quickly transfer troops from the USA and Canada to Europe if necessary.

Former NATO supreme allied commander James Stavridis tells Power & Politics that Canada is punching above its weight on NATO operations, but could do more.

In June, Canada announced that its 210-strong special forces contingent in Iraq would no longer provide training support for Iraqi Kurdish peshmerga fighters.

"When America spends three per cent plus of the world's biggest GDP on its armed forces - and the rest of the Western world scarcely two per cent, it's hard to dispute Trump's view that most of us have been keeping safe on the cheap", Mr Abbott says. Germany leads a similar force in Lithuania, Britain leads one in Estonia and the US leads in Poland. On the other side, twenty-seven European allies.

Concerns about USA disengagement have also deepened given that Trump is scheduled to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin just days after the summit.

The training mission, in the works for at least two years, will be commanded by a Canadian major-general, and Canadian troops will provide the bulk of the headquarters staff.

But any increases in military spending will not come as a result of pressure to do so from "people talking about a two per cent goal", he said when asked about Trump, but rather because of a desire to live up to the country's commitments to its military allies around the world.

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