Canadian troops in Ukraine face uncertainty due to COVID-19 crisis

The COVID-19 crisis has left military commanders facing a tough decision over what to do with 200 Canadian soldiers in Ukraine.

Canada has had troops in the eastern European country since the summer of 2015, where they are teaching Ukrainian forces the basics of soldiering as well as some advanced skills to defend against Russian aggression.

The current contingent arrived in Ukraine in October and was supposed to be replaced by a new group next month, but those plans are now up in the air because of the global pandemic.

Capt. Alexia Croizer of the Canadian Joint Operations Command says the military is considering various factors as it considers whether to go ahead with the rotation, and will communicate its decision to troops and their families soon.

Defence chief Gen. Jonathan Vance ordered a halt to all non-essential troop movement last week to protect the force from COVID-19, while those involved in the training mission are on lockdown because of the pandemic.

Ukrainian Ambassador Andriy Shevchenko says the training mission remains important to his country and right now he expects the troops will be rotated as planned, with the mission itself undergoing some future adjustments to continue working despite the pandemic.