Canadian troops will be heading to Latvia as part of a NATO effort to keep Russia from encroaching on the sovereign borders of its neighbours.
Senior government sources confirmed numerous media reports circulating about the move, including reports from the Toronto Star and The Globe and Mail. On Thursday afternoon, Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan also publicly confirmed the news.
“As a responsible partner in the world, Canada stands side by side with its NATO Allies working to deter aggression and assure peace and stability in Europe,” Sajjan said in a release.
“I am tremendously proud that we are taking a leadership role as a NATO Framework Nation. I know our men and women in uniform will represent the best that Canada has to offer.”
A formal announcement may come before Prime Minister Justin Trudeau leaves next week for a NATO meeting in Warsaw, Poland. Trudeau is also expected to visit Ukraine, which has faced ongoing Russian aggression since the 2014 annexation of Crimea.
At this point, the department sources said, the Canadian mission could include training, supporting local forces, as well as air support.
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NATO nations including Canada, Britain, Germany, and the United States are planning to build a rotating force of 4,000 troops to defend against further Russian movement westward into Poland and the Baltic nations.
On Wednesday, during his address to the Canadian Parliament, U.S. President Barack Obama explicitly called on Ottawa to offer more help to its international allies.
“As your ally and as your friend, let me say that we’ll be more secure when every NATO member including Canada contributes its full share to our common security,” the president said.
“If I can borrow a phrase, the world needs more Canada. NATO needs more Canada. We need you. We need you.”
WATCH: President Barack Obama’s full address to Parliament