June 30, 2022 By Laura Osman, The Canadian Press
MADRID — Canada will be sending more troops to Latvia as part of a pledge to upgrade the NATO battlegroup it leads there to a brigade, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau confirmed on Thursday in Madrid.
The Canadian-led NATO battlegroup is made up of about 2,000 troops, including 700 Canadians, and is one of eight such units based in eastern Europe designed to deter and defend against any Russian invasion.
Canada signed the agreement to upgrade the battlegroup on the sidelines of the major NATO summit on Wednesday, but at the time the federal government said it was too early to confirm whether that would mean deploying more members of the Armed Forces.
On Thursday, Trudeau did not give the number of troops expected.
He also announced more military equipment for Ukraine.
Trudeau said Canada is in the final stages of talks to supply Ukraine with up to 39 armoured combat support vehicles to help it fight off Russia.
He also pledged to give Ukraine six Canadian-made drone cameras, to complement the roughly 20 cameras sent earlier this year.
The equipment purchase means Canada has now spent the $500 million set aside in the 2022 budget for military support for Ukraine.
A new NATO centre of excellence for climate change and security will be located in Montreal, Trudeau said.
He announced that Canada also plans to host the North American office for a network of NATO innovation hubs called the Defence Innovation Accelerator for the North Atlantic (DIANA).
At a news conference marking the end of the NATO meeting, Trudeau also said Canada will take part in the G20 summit expected to take place in Bali in November, even if Russian President Vladimir Putin goes too.
Trudeau said he expects all G7 countries, which also includes the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy and Japan, to take part even if Russia remains a full-fledged member of the G20.
He says it is “too important” a conversation on the global economy will taking place at the G20 summit and that Canada needs to counteract the voice that Russia will have around that table, and any lies it shares there.