Saturday November 18, 2017

Canada in Eastern Europe for the long haul, Defence Minister says

Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan sits down with The House.

Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan sits down with The House. (Nick Gamache (CBC))

Listen 11:02

Canada's Defence Minister says he's ready to support a long-term presence in Eastern Europe, even it means keeping Canadian boots on the ground for more than a decade.

"Absolutely," Harjit Sajjan told The House.

"The last thing you want is sporadic support," he added.

Canada has committed 450 Canadian troops to the NATO operation created to deter to Russian aggression in the region, that began with the illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014 and continues with the conflict between Russian-backed rebels and Ukraine forces in the eastern part  of that Ukraine.

Several thousand troops operating under the NATO umbrella are currently in Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania, as well as eastern Poland.

Sajjan, though, ruled out a NATO peacekeeping operation in Ukraine, something the Conservatives have been calling for. 

"The last we want for any proposal is freeze the conflict, and that's exactly what Russia wants," he said.