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Saturday, March 17, 2018

The strengthening of NATO in the Baltic States stood between Canada and Russia

After much deliberation, Canada decided to participate in the deployment of additional NATO troops on the border with Russia. Thus Ottawa has proven its commitment to American interests in the region. Failure on the part of Canada to wait should not have membership in NATO obliges to keep up with the desires of the Alliance. But this by no means puts an end to warming relations with Russia.

Canada will provide 1,000 troops for one of the four battalions of NATO that the Alliance will deploy in the Baltics and Poland in response to the “Russian annexation” of Crimea, reported DW with reference to the Ministry of defence of the country. The intention of the government has already confirmed the Minister of defense of Canada harjit Singh Sajjan, said “Interfax”.

The Alliance with NATO obliges. It’s a tool in Europe and Canada is an important part of this tool

Together with the United States, Britain and Germany, Canada wants to create and lead the brigade of rapid deployment forces, which would promote the expansion of NATO’s presence in Eastern and Central Europe”, said the press service of the Ministry. In total NATO reinforcements will be about 4 thousand soldiers. It is expected that the canadian military will be placed in Latvia, the us – in Poland, German in Lithuania, and the British in Estonia.

Details of the decision of the canadian authorities will be announced at the NATO summit, which will take place on 8 and 9 July in Warsaw, however, the NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg did not wait and have already commented on the long-awaited event. “Thank You, Canada. All four battalions of NATO to the East is now the leading country. Also thank you Germany, great Britain and the USA”, – he wrote in his Twitter.

Recall that the operation to force Canada to “contain Russia” aroused great concern and has forced Western leaders to sweat.

Peaceful Canada

Yet the election of the ruling Liberal party of Canada promised to focus policy on peacekeeping. In February, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that Canada intends to stop participating in combat operations against ISIS* and instead to increase the number of troops involved in training Iraqi armed forces. The experts noted that the canadian government no longer wanted to repeat the bad experience of Afghanistan.

Gradually, the government cut the military budget, which now stands at a little less than 1% of GDP, while NATO, recall, urges 2%. If after the Second world war the number of canadian army were more than 760 thousand troops, today, only 68 thousand are under contract and another 27 thousand are in the reserve.

Changed relations of Canada and Russia. The coming to power of Trudeau, as expected, led to a positive change in the relations of Canada with Moscow, emphasized the media. In particular, the Minister of foreign Affairs of Canada stéphane Dion noted that the dialogue with Moscow on the Ukrainian and other issues should resume. Later about their positive attitude towards the Prime Minister of Canada and said the President of Russia Vladimir Putin. In June, Justin Trudeau reiterated that when trying to restore relations with Russia will retain the hardness. Putin, speaking at the St. Petersburg economic forum, also said that relations between the two countries got a chance to recover after coming to power in Canada’s new Prime Minister.

Not so long ago, in June, the canadian intelligence service CSIS has even published a report, which noted that the West’s focus on so-called hybrid war. In this war Russia is forced to work on the issues of security of his country and is engaged in purely defensive activities, any aggression is not out of the question.

“Putin’s position is not like anything since the Soviet Union”

All this clearly did not satisfy the Western “hawks”. First, “indifference” Canada outraged American media. The Globe and Mail in an editorial said that “the Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the Minister of defence harjit Sajjan needs to take the initiative to participate in the planned new NATO units in Eastern Europe… and increasingly aggressive Vladimir Putin’s position is not like anything since the collapse of the Soviet Empire,” warned the authors. They recalled that Trudeau in his election program, he promised that Canada will always be “agile, rapid and well-equipped armed forces” and that Canada will honour its safeguards obligations of NATO in Central and Eastern Europe.

Globe and Mail stressed that Canada needs to show our seriousness in support of the allies – countries that share our democratic values. It’s no wonder with the end of the Second world war to the early 1990s, thousands of canadian soldiers were stationed in Germany. They reminded Moscow about the need to stay on their side of the border,” concluded the authors.

The situation continued to discuss the 14 June at the Ministerial meeting of the defense Ministers of NATO countries in Brussels, most of the questions, as expected, was addressed to the Minister of defense of Canada. Jens Stoltenberg has even decided to take a preemptive strike and even before the meeting giving interviews about how he is glad that Canada is considering to contribute to NATO operations.

He recalled that Ottawa has already sent several fighters CF-18 to Eastern Europe, a frigate to patrol the waters of the Mediterranean and Black seas, as well as a company of 200 soldiers for exercises in Poland. NATO is very grateful for the contribution, but would welcome the extension of the country’s participation in the NATO operations, said Stoltenberg. After the meeting he personally called on the government of Canada to connect to “contain Russia” in Eastern Europe.

“The world needs more Canada”

The response of the canadian government, however, was not followed. Given that in Canada, strong Ukrainian Diaspora, many were convinced that the canadian-Ukrainian business forum on June 20 in Toronto, Trudeau won’t be able to keep silent, finally announces the permanent military presence of Canada in the Baltic States. However, the Prime Minister only promised to visit Ukraine on an official visit after the NATO summit in July.

However, the pressure of officials to Canada grew. The situation did not fail to take advantage of the Polish President Andrzej Duda, who came on an official visit and asked him to increase in his country’s military presence of Canada for protection against “Russian aggression”. Duda said that he would like to get as many foreign troops.

To cool passions, the canadian government apparently decided to make some concessions. In the Western media began to appear that the authorities intend to send to the Baltics, a company of 150 people or more. However, NATO partners regarded it as an obvious mockery.

The last straw of pressure was the appeal of President Barack Obama. He clearly hinted at dissatisfaction with the position of Canada: “the Implementation (tasks of collective security requires the use of a wide range of tools, from economic sanctions (sanctions against Russia) to maintain the combat readiness of our forces to the missions of the XXI century… As your ally and as your friend, let me say that we will be more secure when every member of NATO, including Canada, will contribute most to our collective security,” said Obama, who was quoted by RIA “Novosti”. “Since the canadian forces is really good, let me tell you, the world needs more Canada. NATO requires a more active participation of Canada,” he added.

Not a hindrance

The decision Canada still send its military to the Baltic States should not be surprising, said the Deputy Director of the Institute of USA and Canada studies Pavel Zolotarev. “It is clear that NATO is all systems go for the team from Washington. We see this in the whole of European politics, but in Canada – especially”, – he said in an interview with the newspaper LOOK.

The Alliance with NATO obliges. It’s a tool in Europe and Canada is an important part of this tool,” says Zolotarev.

However, the decision of Canada should not overshadow the emerging warming of relations between Russia and Canada, which hopes the Russian leadership, said Zolotarev. “I think the diplomatic line we have them all for this reason for example. As for the desire to improve relations, they will remain – it is much more important. Not a hindrance and should not interfere”, – the expert believes.

However, the arrival of additional troops in the Baltic States can deliver a certain kind of trouble. “The danger from such actions, including through the presence in the Baltics, Canada, is that it increases the likelihood of crisis situations from the point of view of any accidents during the exercise, both the one and the other. This can lead to undesirable consequences. But in General to speak about possibility of the conflict between Russia and NATO is not necessary”, – said the source.

Zolotarev stressed once again that the increase of NATO’s presence is symbolic and threats are not getting bigger. “If you look at the balance of forces of the parties – Russia and NATO, turning to the language of the cold war, the forces are simply not comparable. In terms of NATO forces many times superior to the Russian potential. Potential NATO is already huge, and to demonstrate there is no military necessity. It is of an exclusively political nature of the pressure on Russia”, – he concluded.

* Organization in respect of which the court accepted entered into legal force decision on liquidation or ban the activities on the grounds stipulated by the Federal law “On countering extremist activity”

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