Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced on Tuesday that Canada is extending its NATO commitment in Latvia by another four years to March 2023 and will boost the number of troops in the country to 540 from 455 to show solidarity on defense and security issues with the alliance.
Following a meeting with Latvian Prime Minister Maris Kucinskis, this announcement was made in Riga. Trudeau hopes the increased Canadian commitment to Latvia gets the attention of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Canada is part of a NATO battle group in Latvia, which was established as the alliance’s response to Russia’s surprise annexation of Crimea in 2014 and its invasion of eastern Ukraine.
“We certainly hope that the message is passed clearly to President Putin that his actions in destabilizing and disregarding the international rules-based order that has been successfully underpinned by NATO amongst others over the past 75 years or so is extremely important,” said Trudeau.
He added that he hoped that Russia will choose to become a more positive actor in world affairs than it has chosen to be in the past.
The Canadian-led group is one of four in the region, and includes troops from seven NATO allies. Germany leads a similar force in Lithuania, Britain leads one in Estonia and the U.S. leads in Poland.
Trudeau’s announcement comes a day ahead of a NATO summit in Brussels, where the stage is set for another meeting between world leaders and Donald Trump. Canada and other NATO allies is preparing to counter the U.S. president’s complaint that they aren’t carrying their fair share of the burden of being part of the military alliance.