By Steve Scherer
OTTAWA (Reuters) -Canada will deploy a general and six staff officers to a new NATO unit in Latvia that will help plan, coordinate and integrate regional military activities, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Thursday.
In response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Canada expanded and extended its participation a North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s battlegroup there that also includes troops from Italy, Spain, Poland and Slovakia.
The general and staff officers will “be part of a first of its kind unit,” Trudeau told reporters at a joint news conference with Latvian Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins. “It’ll serve as a continued important part of our enhancements to NATO’s defense and deterrence capabilities.”
Canada has almost 700 members of its armed forces deployed in Latvia, a small Baltic state that shares a border with Russia.
The Latvian prime minister welcomed Canada’s participation in a new “multi-divisional headquarters” there.
“That is a step in the absolute right direction,” Karins said. “It’s primarily a message to Moscow and to (President Vladimir) Putin that we are dead serious about defending ourselves.”
(Reporting by Steve SchererEditing by Chris Reese and Nick Zieminski)