Prime Minster Justin Trudeau announced on Thursday that Canada will send a Canadian Armed Forces general officer and six staff officers to NATO’s Multinational Division North Headquarters, based in Ādaži, Latvia.
The announcement comes after a closed-door meeting with Latvian Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš.
“They’ll be part of a first-of-its-kind unit in the northern Baltic Sea region to help plan, co-ordinate and integrate regional military activities that will serve as a continued and important part of our enhancements to NATO’s defence and deterrence capabilities,” said Trudeau.
The prime minister said it’s an ask long requested by Latvia that will help to defend against threats to democracy and global stability.
Canada has already deployed nearly 700 soldiers to Latvia as part of Operation Reassurance’s Forward Presence Battle Group.
Kariņš said the additional reinforcement is a “step absolutely in the right direction, and it’s very, very highly appreciated.”
Trudeau said the two discussed the changing security dynamic in the Baltic region and the need to reassess NATO’s risk posture.
“Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine shows…[it] is willing to make terrible strategic mistakes and act against all reasonable assumptions and miscalculate so much,” he said.
Karinš told CTV News Channel’s Power Play on Wednesday evening that Latvia and other Baltic states would like to see NATO’s presence there move from a “tripwire” to an “active, forward” defence posture.
“Thinking about our own defence, NATOs defence, what we need to do is to make it much more robust, we need to make it permanent. And we need to change it say from a tripwire defence … to an active forward defence,” he said.
Karinš said in doing so, Russians would be deterred from attempting to advance elsewhere in the future because it would be clear their advances would be stopped from the outset.
The Latvian prime minister repeated this call on Thursday.
“The approach or the proper response of NATO is a political decision to, in a sense, up our capabilities to lower the probability of any such attack in the Baltics,” he said.
Trudeau said these issues will be discussed further at the upcoming NATO Summit in Madrid starting on June 29.