Canadian soldiers have landed in Latvia as part of Operation Reassurance – a multinational NATO mission aimed not at starting a conflict, but at discouraging Russian aggression in the region.
Nearly 100 Edmonton-based troops arrived in the Latvian capital of Riga on Saturday, eager to get to work after their long flight.
“We’ve been training a long time,” one Canadian soldier told CTV News. “We want to be here and Latvia wants us here and so we are happy to be here.”
In total, Canada is deploying 450 troops to lead a battlegroup comprised of soldiers from five other NATO countries: Italy, Spain, Poland, Slovenia and Albania. Those countries will contribute up to 1,500 soldiers to the battlegroup in an effort to send a powerful message of deterrence to Russia.
“The enhanced forward presence is going to provide the defence of Latvia, the Baltics, and all of NATO,” battlegroup commander Lieutenant-Colonel Wade Rutland told reporters on Saturday in Latvia.
It’s a different kind of mission for the Canadian Forces, with an unusual definition of success.
“It’s a bit of a funny mission success criteria, that if nothing happens, we’ll all go home happy,” Rutland added.
The troops will be stationed at Camp Adazi, a Latvian military base just outside of Riga.