Trudeau Reconsiders Baltic Support As Canadian Intel Says Russia ‘Mobilizing For War’

REUTERS/Gleb Garanich

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Saagar Enjeti White House Correspondent
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Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government is considering a NATO request to commit hundreds of troops to the Baltic states to counter Russian aggression.

The Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) released a public intelligence estimate detailing Russian President’s Vladimir Putin’s efforts to retool the Russian military for a fight with NATO and explicitly warned “the state is mobilizing for war.”

NATO Defense Ministers announced their final agreement to deploy a 4000 strong man force to the Baltic states to counter Russian aggression on June 14. The United States, Germany, and Great Britain have publicly committed to each leading a battalion. The fourth country to lead a battalion is still unclear despite public declarations by NATO Secretary General Jans Stoltenberg that the force is confirmed.

A senior Canadian defense official told CBCNews the request from NATO and the U.S.  to lead the fourth battalion took the government by surprise, where the proposal was not being considered as late as April 2016. Canadian Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan reportedly discussed the matter with fellow NATO Defense Ministers on June 14. Any announcement on Canada’s role will likely precede the meeting of NATO Heads of State to take place in Brussels on July 8.

Approximately 200 Canadian troops are taking part in the current massive joint NATO exercise over Poland termed Anakonda. Canada is also a member of NATO Operation Reassurance meant to bolster allied defense in the wake of Russian annexation of Ukraine.

The NATO deployment is meant to be more than a symbolic gesture . NATO Secretary General Jan Stoltenberg called the decision “the biggest reinforcement of collective defense since the end of the Cold War.” NATO intends for the battalions to be strong enough to do enough damage to halt a Russian advance before a NATO rapid reaction team arrives to assist.

Larger NATO member countries Italy and France, whom many thought would step up and offer a battalion, have rejected the deployment. Some have speculated that the U.S. will provide the additional battalion. Washington’s NATO Ambassador Douglas Lute told the New York Times the US is “not thinking about doing two.”

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Saagar Enjeti