April 29, 2014 5:54 pm

Canadian CF-18 fighter jets leave for Europe to aid crisis in Ukraine

The CF-18 fighter jets leaving Bagotville, Quebec for Europe on April 29, 2014 to aid in the Ukraine crisis.

Combat Camera / DND

A half-dozen CF-18 fighter jets left base in Bagotville, Que. Tuesday and headed to Romania.

The planes will be assisting NATO air-policing operations in eastern Europe as the crisis in Ukraine continues.

Demonstrators demanding more power for Ukraine’s regions have stormed the regional administration building in Luhansk, one of the largest cities in Ukraine’s troubled east.

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The action further raises tensions in the east, where insurgents have seized control of police stations and other government buildings in at least 10 cities and towns.

The jets and ground support staff will be based in Romania.

“This is in response to the situation that is developing there and frankly more generally to the concern that we have on what really is expansionism and militarism on the part of Russia under the presidency of Mr. (Vladimir) Putin,” Harper said two weeks ago, prior to a meeting with the country’s top military commander, Gen. Tom Lawson.

“I believe this to be a long-term, serious threat to global peace and security and we’re always prepared to work with our allies in NATO and elsewhere.”

The Canadian fighter jets will join warplanes from the United States, Britain, Denmark, Poland, Portugal and Germany, which will be deploying in waves between now and the fall.

Canada is also slated to take part in July in a long-planned, U.S.-led military exercise in Ukraine, known as Rapid Trident 2014, but the government has not been forthcoming about the size and scope of the country’s involvement.

Watch below: Pro-Russian militias paraded their prisoners before journalists in Slavyansk – including a team of European military observers, as well as bound and bloody Ukrainian soldiers.

With files from Murray Brewster

© The Canadian Press, 2014

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