The announcement was made at a meeting of NATO defense ministers in Brussels.
The deployment will be part of Operation Reassurance and is set to take place over the coming months, with the full arrival of the tanks, initial supporting personnel, and equipment expected by Fall 2023. The full complement of approximately 130 personnel should be in place by spring 2024, according to the Canadian Defence Ministry.
"This Canadian Army Tank Squadron will join the Canada-led NATO enhanced Forward Presence (eFP) Battle Group in Latvia – a multinational, ten-nation battle group that Canada has led as the Framework Nation since 2017. The deployment of the Canadian Army Tank Squadron will significantly boost the Battle Group’s military capabilities. This announcement demonstrates Canada’s commitment to implementing the Canada-Latvia Joint Declaration of June 2022, through which Canada pledged to work with Latvia and NATO Allies to generate and stage forces in order to surge the eFP Battle Group Latvia to a combat capable brigade," said the announcement.
During the NATO Defence Ministers’ Meeting, Allies discussed their ongoing support to Ukraine, with an emphasis on setting the conditions for the country’s long-term military success and a strengthened relationship with NATO, while also ensuring sufficient defence production. Ministers reaffirmed NATO’s solidarity and unity in response to Russia’s illegal and unjustifiable war, and providing timely and effective aid to Ukraine, in partnership with industry.
“Canada’s support for Ukraine is unwavering, and our commitment to the NATO Alliance is ironclad. Canada’s additional military aid to Ukraine will help the Armed Forces of Ukraine defend itself against Russia’s illegal and unjustifiable invasion. In addition, the deployment of a Canadian Army Tank Squadron to Latvia demonstrates Canada’s continued commitment to Latvia’s security, and the collective defence of NATO. As a founding member of NATO, Canada will continue to step up with concrete contributions to protect our Allies,” said Anand.
Latvian Minister of Defense Ināra Mūrniece welcomed the deployment, saying: "Latvia and Canada are closely cooperating to implement the declaration concluded during the NATO Madrid summit and to develop the combat group stationed in Latvia to the level of a combat-capable brigade. Canada's decision to permanently deploy tanks in Latvia is a strong signal of Canada's determination to achieve this goal."
Canada will step up its military presence in Latvia by deploying a tank unit with 15 Leopard 2 tanks to🇱🇻. This 🇨🇦decision shows its strong commitment to develop @eFPBGLatvia to a brigade. Thank you @AnitaAnandMP for🇨🇦contribution to the security of our region. #StrongerTogether pic.twitter.com/k6tWYBG3j5— Ināra Mūrniece (@IMurniece) June 16, 2023
The Minister of Defense also informed NATO colleagues about the decision taken by the Latvian government this year, as well as in 2024 and 2025, to contribute EUR 2 million (each year) to NATO's Comprehensive Support Package for Ukraine. The purpose of this initiative is to provide non-lethal support to the armed forces of Ukraine, adapting them to the conditions of active warfare.
In addition, the Minister of Defense also participated in the meeting of the US-led Ukrainian Defense Contact Group (Ramstein format), which took place on June 15 at the NATO headquarters in Brussels.