Updated May 14th, 2024 at 08:30 IST

Canada Enhances Presence in Latvia, Boosts Multinational Brigade amid Ukraine War

Canadian Defense Minister discusses defense policy updates with U.S. counterpart, emphasizing increased investments in Arctic security.

Reported by: Yuvraj Tyagi
A Canadian soldier from the Lake Superior Scottish Regiment conducts live-fire training. | Image:Canadian Army
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Washington DC: Canadian Defense Minister William Blair engaged in discussions with U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III at the Pentagon on Monday, focusing on updates to Canada's defence policy. The policy shift comes in response to global changes, including the conflict in Ukraine and escalating tensions in the Indo-Pacific.  

In order to meet its NATO commitment, Canada plans to significantly increase military investments. These investments will target Arctic and North American security enhancement, modernization of NORAD, support for Ukraine against Russian aggression, and strengthening NATO's defence capabilities. Canadian Defense Minister William Blair said, "Canada has no closer friend than the United States. We have stood by each other in good times and in challenging times as close partners in defence and security.”  

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Enhancing Arctic Security and Strengthening Defense Capabilities  

Blair emphasized the importance of defending the Arctic and expanding Canada's military presence in Latvia. Additionally, plans are underway to establish a Canadian-led multinational brigade, with the potential accession of Finland and Sweden into NATO further bolstering security in the region.   

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A statement on the official website of the Government of Canada mentions, “We, the Minister of Defence of the Republic of Latvia and the Minister of National Defence of Canada, recognize our common interests in international peace and security, demonstrating an unwavering commitment to our shared values, the rules-based international order, and international cooperation.”

The statement continues, “Against the backdrop of Russia’s brutal and illegal war in Ukraine and in response to Russia’s continued aggressive and destabilizing actions, Allies agreed at the 2022 Summit in Madrid that a more robust, multi-domain, and scalable force posture was required to deter and defend through a greater military presence in Europe, particularly along NATO’s Eastern Flank.”  

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Transition and build-up signify NATO's proactive stance in deterring aggression 

Enhanced Forward Presence Battle Group or the eFP Battlegroup in Latvia is 1 of 8 defensive NATO battlegroups created to deter and defend against aggression. As the Build Phase commences, Canada and its Allies prioritize the alignment of Brigade build-up with infrastructure development, ensuring operational readiness and effectiveness.

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The enhanced Forward Presence Brigade, under Canada's leadership, will report directly to the Multinational Division Headquarters – North, enhancing coordination and command structure within NATO's defence framework. Canada showcased its commitment to Latvia's defence by deploying a Canadian Army Tank Squadron of 15 Leopard 2 battle tanks and personnel at the end of 2023, enhancing the Battlegroup's combat capabilities. In Fall 2024, the Brigade will undertake its first Brigade exercise and NATO Combat Readiness Evaluation, demonstrating readiness to deter and respond to potential threats effectively.  

The enhanced Forward Presence Battlegroup transitions from the Latvian Mechanized Infantry Brigade to the Canada-led Brigade, ensuring seamless integration and command structure. With the Brigade build-up slated for completion by 2025, a significant increase in Canadian and multinational Armed Forces soldiers will be persistently deployed in Latvia, augmenting the country's defence readiness and deterring potential threats effectively. 

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Published May 14th, 2024 at 08:30 IST