Canada expected to send troops to Latvia to deter Russia

Canada is expected to announce within days it will deploy hundreds of Canadian Forces soldiers to Latvia as part of a new NATO force in Eastern Europe as a deterrent against Russian aggression.

Sources say the federal cabinet has authorized Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan ‎to provide up to a battalion of Canadian troops, which is about 1,000 soldiers.

Canada would be joining Britain, Germany and the United States, which have offered to build a rotating force of 4,000 troops on NATO’s eastern flank in Poland and the Baltics.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will travel next week to the NATO Summit in Warsaw, which will be President Barack Obama’s last. Mr. Obama had been leaning on Canada to help by contributing to the new rapid-response forces.

The summit will formally agree on the plan for the four battalions.

Canada is expected to deploy to Latvia with the U.S., while Britain is expected to send troops to Estonia, and Germany to Lithuania.

The United States will also supply an armoured brigade to rove around the eastern flank.

One of Canada’s nine infantry divisions is expected to rotate through Latvia, serving up to six months at a time.

Canada currently has about 220 Canadian troops at NATO’s training mission in Poland.

Former communist states in NATO want to bolster its eastern defences without having major NATO countries station large forces permanently. Since Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea from Ukraine, NATO is concerned that Moscow could swiftly invade Poland or the Baltic states.