Defence Minister Jason Kenney announced that Canada will contribute Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) personnel to the NATO Force Integration Units (NFIU) in Estonia and Lithuania.
The NFIU provides personnel to ensure NATO’s high-readiness forces can quickly deploy to respond to threats and security challenges.
US Defence Secretary Ash Carter announced earlier this week that the US will deploy heavy vehicles and material in six NATO countries. Lithuania and Estonia, where Canadian staff officers will be deployed, will host American tanks, infantry fighting vehicles and self-propelled howitzers.
“Canada’s operational contributions to NATO are undisputed. We have provided the Alliance with high-quality personnel and capabilities when needed. Canada will continue to play its part in support to NATO Assurance and Adaptation Measures illustrated by our contribution to the NATO Force Integration Units in Estonia and Lithuania. I would like to thank my counterparts for a productive two days of meetings, advancing the interests of the Alliance and exchanging frank views on current security issues,” says Defence Minister Kenney.
In fact, Canada will deploy five staff officers to both NIFU’s. The staff officers will provide logistical and planning support to facilitate NATO’ deployment of troops.
One of the statements by NATO Defence Ministers on June 25 was about the establishment of six multinational command and control elements for the NFIU.
“The establishment of the first six multinational command and control elements – the NATO Force Integration Units (NFIU) – on the territories of Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Romania, is well under way. They will facilitate the rapid deployment of Allied forces to the region as required; support collective defence planning; and assist the coordination of multinational training and exercises. Taking into account military advice on the establishment of additional NFIUs which is currently being developed, we will take a decision at our meeting in October.”
During NATO’s Defence Minister meeting, Kenney confirmed Canada’s firm commitment towards its allies and partners.
Canada has been one of the strongest supporter of Ukraine and has openly criticized Russia’s aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine and the annexation of Crimea.
Late last year, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper sent a clear message to Russian President Vladimir Putin at the G20 summit. Harper shook Putin’s hand but told him, openly and in public, “I’ll shake your hand, but I only have one thing to say to you: Get out of Ukraine.”
Canadian soldiers will also be deployed, later this summer, in western Ukraine to take part in training Ukrainian soldiers.