RIGA - Russia must be punished for its cruel war in Ukraine and international pressure on the aggressor state must not ease, Defense Minister Artis Pabriks (Development/For) said in a meeting with Canada's Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland.
Pabriks' meeting with the Canadian deputy prime minister focused on the geopolitical situation. The officials voiced concurring positions on the provision of various kinds of support and assistance to Ukraine in connection with Russia's unjustifiable war.
"Ukraine deserves the status of an EU candidate state. At present, it is fighting a war for its state, for democracy, for freedom and the security of the whole European Union. The Ukrainian people is currently fighting for all of this with its blood. It is the duty of the democratic world to support Ukraine with weapons and finance to ensure the the functioning and rebuilding of the state. Russia must be punished for its cruel war in Ukraine and pressure on this aggressor state must not ease. Ukraine must win this war with our support," Pabriks said.
The Latvian defense minister, currently in Canada on a working visit, also underlined that countries must continue to invest in their own defense and beefing up collective security, particularly on NATO's eastern flank, the Baltic states.
During his working visit to Canada, Pabriks met also with Canadian parliamentarians to discuss geopolitical challenges posed by Russia's war on Ukraine, as well as cooperation in strengthening security.
The Latvian minister indicated that Canada has a potential to ensure Europe's energy independence from Russia and stressed the necessity to use all opportunities to "deputinize" Europe.
Pabriks told the Canadian lawmakers that Canada's leadership is critical for the Baltic region's security and urged to work together on increasing Allied presence in Latvia.
As reported, Canada is the framework nation of NATO’s multinational battle group Latvia. NATO eFP battle group Latvia is comprised of around 1,500 troops from Albania, Czech Republic, Iceland, Italy, Canada, Montenegro, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia and Spain who rotate to Latvia to take part in joint training with National Armed Force of Latvia and, thus, promote interoperability of allied forces present in the region and the overall capability to respond to various security threats.
NATO enhanced Forward Presence battle groups have been created and deployed in scope of NATO’s deterrence policy. Their aim is to enhance Alliance’s defense capabilities, demonstrate the solidarity between the members of the Alliance and reaffirm Alliance’s commitment to defend itself in case of any potential aggression.
At the end of February, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he was authorizing additional 100 Canadian troops to Latvia. "So today, I am also authorizing the deployment of up to 460 members of the Canadian Armed Forces to Operation Reassurance. This involves more troops to Latvia, as well as the deployment of an additional frigate and maritime patrol aircraft," he said.
Canada is sending to Latvia an artillery unit of 100 servicemen who will join 540 other Canadian soldiers who are serving with NATO's Enhanced Forward Presence Battle Group in Latvia on a rotational basis.
Canada is also sending to Eastern Europe its HMCS Halifax frigate and a CP-140 Aurora patrol aircraft to promote security in the region.