Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper officially confirmed that the Canadian Forces will deploy 200 soldiers to train Ukrainian soldiers.
The Canadian Forces will have boots on the ground this summer and will “develop and deliver military training and capacity-building programs for Ukrainian forces personnel,” according to Harper’s press release.
The NATO training centre in Yavoriv, near the Polish border, is 1,300 kilometres away from the conflict zone and will welcome 150 Canadian military personel. Canada has helped set up the NATO training centre in Yavoriv. According to the Canada’s Chief of the Defence Staff General Tom Lawson , there is an almost nonexistant risk of combat in the region due to its geographical position.
The remaining 50 soldiers will be spreaded across Ukraine but the exact regions have yet to be determined. According to CBC, the remaining soldiers involves:
- 25 troops putting Canada’s experience in Afghanistan to use, offering explosives training at Ukraine’s Ministry of Defence de-mining centre in Kamyanets-Podilsky in the country’s extreme southwest.
- 5 medical trainers.
- 15 military police trainers.
- Between 5 and 10 flight safety trainers from Canada’s air force.
- 5 other troops offering logistical training.
The Canadian government did send non-lethal material to Ukraine including satellite radar images, high-frequency radios, night vision goggles, medical supplies and explosive disposal equipment earlier this year.
Canada will be the third NATO country to provide much-needed training until March 31, 2017. British and American soldiers are already on the ground conducting their own training missions. Canadian soldiers will join a U.S.-led mission and will only deal with recognized Ukrainian government forces.
The cost associated to the deployment of 200 Canadian military advisors is $16 million for 2015. However, the cost related to the other two years have yet to be finalized.
The Canadian deployment is mainly for pushing back the Putin regime in Ukraine. CBC wrote that Defence Minister Jason Kenney confirmed Canada is sending Russia a message.
Kenney said that Canada’s contributions were necessary to “send a strong message of resolution and deterrence” in the face of aggression from Russian President Vladimir Putin. But Canadian forces would “absolutely not” be engaging with Russian troops, he said, and Canada has “no intention” of making this an accompanying mission.
The deployment of Canadian soldiers in Ukraine is not linked with Operation Reassurance, Canada’s contribution to NATO’s presence in Eastern Europe.
A spring offensive led by pro-Russian separatists might be under preparation, according to many reports. A new offensive would clearly reignite the conflict and Canada would then have to reassess its commitment to the Ukrainian government. Until then, Canada will stand strong with Ukraine and will keep supplying them with much needed training and non-lethal equipment.