Canada and Latvia unite for training Ukrainian soldiers amid war

Eva Homicio

Canadian soldiers

Canadian soldiers / ©, Niamat Ullah

In an effort to bolster international support for Ukraine amid the ongoing conflict with Russia, Canada's Defence Minister Anita Anand announced a new initiative to train Ukrainian soldiers in Latvia. 

The training, set to begin as early as next week, will be undertaken by members of the Canadian military, in conjunction with their Latvian counterparts.

This initiative signals an expansion of Operation Unifier, Canada's training program for Ukrainian soldiers, which is already active in Poland and the United Kingdom. 

The Latvian program will primarily focus on junior officer leadership development training for the Ukrainian Armed Forces, reflecting Canada's dedication to assisting Ukraine in its war against Russia.

The announcement followed a bilateral meeting between Anand and Latvian Defence Minister Ināra Mūrniece in Ottawa. Mūrniece emphasized the urgency of supporting Ukraine, particularly given Latvia's proximity to the warzone. 

She also noted that Latvia's military assistance to Ukraine currently accounts for 1% of the country's GDP, demonstrating a concerted effort to enhance its readiness to support its neighbor.

Canadian military aid to Ukraine has already exceeded $1 billion, and Anand and Mūrniece have been discussing plans to reinforce a Canadian-led NATO battle group in Latvia to a combat-ready brigade, a commitment initially made in June 2022. 

While the details are still being developed, the next phase involves establishing force development and defining the critical capabilities of allied countries' militaries.

Negotiations are in progress with the other ten countries that form part of the battle group to determine their respective contributions to the brigade. About 800 Canadian Armed Forces members are currently deployed to Latvia, though the total number required for the brigade is yet to be determined.

Despite the Canadian military facing staffing shortages, with over 16,000 unfilled positions and mounting global and domestic demands, efforts are being made to meet these challenges. 

This includes responding to a recent request for assistance from Alberta due to the early onset of wildfire season.

In conclusion, Canada, in partnership with Latvia, is demonstrating its ongoing commitment to supporting Ukraine by expanding its training initiatives and military aid, while simultaneously addressing domestic challenges and maintaining its international commitments.

Earlier we reported: Canada will give Ukraine millions of rounds of ammunition and thousands of rifles

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