Canada announces the deployment of Leopard 2 tanks to Latvia during the NATO Defence Ministers meeting in Brussels
On Friday, 16 June, during the NATO Defence Ministers meeting in Brussels, Canada’s Minister of National Defence, Anita Anand, announced deployment of Leopard 2 tanks to Latvia. Canada plans to send 15 of its Leopard 2 tanks to Latvia in the coming months. Arrival of tank squadron, which also includes personnel and equipment, is another step towards upgrading NATO’s enhanced Forward Presence Battle Group Latvia to a brigade-size formation, confirming Canada’s commitment to the region.
‘Latvia and Canada are close partners. Together we implement NATO Madrid Summit Declaration and make sure Latvian battle group evolves into a brigade-size combat unit. Canada’s decision to permanently relocate some of its tanks to Latvia is a strong evidence of Canada’s commitment to development of battle group. Latvia is thankful to Canada for its efforts as the framework nation to strengthen security, as well as defence capabilities, of Latvia and the whole eastern flank of NATO and achieve steady progress towards brigade-size battle group,’ stressed Defence Minister Ināra Mūrniece.
Defence Minister paid a working visit to Brussels (Belgium) on 15-16 June to attend the meeting of NATO Defence Ministers, which focused on further political and military support to Ukraine, boosting of Alliance’s deterrence and defence capabilities and other issues leading up to the NATO Vilnius Summit.
Agenda of the NATO Defence Ministers meeting included a working session of NATO-Ukraine Commission, which is comprised of, inter alia, Oleksii Reznikov, Ukraine’s Defence Minister, and Josep Borrell, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. Commission discussed further NATO and European Union’s support to Ukraine and Ukraine’s NATO membership perspective.
‘We all support the need to continue providing all immediate military support to Ukraine. However, Ukraine’s counterattack to regain control over its territory is not our only focus. We must also make sure Ukraine receives all necessary military and humanitarian assistance in the long run. Ukraine is undeniably a member of Euro-Atlantic community. NATO Vilnius Summit this summer must become a turning point in securing tangible long-term support to Ukraine, showing political resolve of NATO member states to offer Ukraine a clear road map to NATO membership as soon as possible,’ Minister Mūrniece said.
Defence Minister also told her NATO colleagues that Latvian government has decided to contribute 2 million euros a year for NATO’s Comprehensive Assistance Package for Ukraine this year and in 2024 and 2025. Package is a non-lethal assistance programme for Ukrainian Armed Forces, which changes depending on how warfare develops over time.
Minister Mūrniece also took part in US-led Ukraine Defence Contact Group (also known as the Ramstein group) meeting at the NATO headquarters in Brussels on 15 June. Ministers of Ramstein group discussed current security situation in Ukraine and long-term military support to Ukraine required to enhance country’s military capabilities and secure its victory against Russia. Latvia will continue to train Ukrainian troops, also through joint Canadian-Latvian Junior Officer leadership development training for the Armed Forces of Ukraine in Latvia, which has turned out to be highly successful, Minister told her colleagues. Latvia is open to other partners joining the training of Ukrainian officers to maximise the output of this initiative, asserted Minister Mūrniece.
As for the forthcoming NATO Vilnius Summit, NATO defence ministers spent a great deal of time discussing the need to boost Alliance’s deterrence and defence capabilities. In her intervention, Defence Minister of Latvia urged colleagues to use Vilnius summit as a platform for sending a clear and unwavering signal that NATO will stand by its commitments. Better defence and deterrence capabilities require huge defence investments from NATO member states. That is why Latvia has decided to commit around 2.3% of its GDP this year for the defence needs and continue to grow defence spending to reach 3% of GDP in 2027.
‘When we talk about commitment to Alliance’s security, we must clearly and fully understand that there can be no excuses or compromises when it comes to Europe’s security in current geopolitical environment. We must act and do so quickly,’ Minister Mūrniece said.
During her working visit to Brussels on 15 June, Minister also met with Thierry Breton, EU Commissioner for Internal Market, to discuss EU support for development of Latvia’s military industry. Europe must seek to build a geographically balanced military industry to make sure its supply chains are secure and aligned with various scenarios, including security threat scenarios.
On Friday, 16 June, Defence Minister Ināra Mūrniece also attended NATO Nuclear Policy Planning Group meeting, which took place in Brussels and focused on Alliance’s nuclear deterrence policy aimed at preventing aggressions and securing lasting peace.
Head of the Media Relations Section
Military Public Affairs Department