HMCS Halifax to join NATO's Ukraine support mission
Frigate will deploy to eastern Europe near the end of March, defence minister says
HMCS Halifax and its crew will depart Nova Scotia under a NATO flag in late March to respond to Russia's recent actions in Ukraine, the federal government announced Tuesday.
The ship's deployment is part of Ottawa's latest efforts to support NATO's allies in eastern Europe. Canada will also send 460 troops and a maritime patrol aircraft to the region under its existing military mission, Operation Reassurance.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the frigate's deployment after condemning Russian President Vladimir Putin's recognition of the eastern Ukrainian regions of Donetsk and Luhansk as independent states.
"This recognition is a violation of Russia's obligations under international law and the charter of the United Nations," Trudeau said. "Canada also denounces Russian military actions, including orders to move into Ukraine, which is a clear incursion of Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity."
Trudeau also announced sanctions against Russia and promised additional economic penalties if it continues to "further invade" Ukraine.
Defence Minister Anita Anand said HMCS Halifax will complement Canada's current contribution to NATO's Standing Maritime Group Two, the alliance's second permanent naval force.
"This is a pivotal moment," Anand said. "We will continue to support our Ukrainian partners as they defend their sovereignty."
Trudeau said the sanctions are a "major step" and will remain in place until the territorial integrity of Ukraine is restored.
"It is not too late for Russia to seek a diplomatic resolution and re-establish a pathway to peace," he said. "But it is also clear that Russian actions violate international law and threaten international peace and security."
HMCS Halifax will be deployed "towards the last part of March," Anand said and will carry "the large tranche" of the 460 members of the Canadian Armed Forces from across the country heading to eastern Europe.