'We need to be united': Latvia’s ambassador to Canada to attend send-off of soldiers from CFB Shilo

A special guest will help send off Canadian soldiers based out of CFB Shilo in Brandon, Man. as they are deployed to Latvia on Saturday.

Latvia’s ambassador to Canada Kaspars Ozoliņš will be on hand as Canadian Armed Forces soldiers depart for the NATO country as part of Operation Reassurance.

According to the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF), about 250 soldiers from CFB Shilo will be deployed to Latvia as part of the operation between now and mid-June.

The operation is aimed at deterring aggression, preventing conflict and protecting stability in the region.

There will also be soldiers arriving from other units in 1 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group, which will lead to approximately 600 soldiers deployed from Western Canada.

It is part of the Enhanced Forward Presence Battle Group (eFP BG) - a NATO effort with several other countries deployed to the eFP BG, which is based in Camp Adazi, Latvia.

While there, soldiers will conduct training, exercises and some NATO-specific tasks, CAF said.

Ambassador Ozoliņš sat down with CTV Morning Live’s Nicole Dubé Friday morning ahead of the departure.

Ozoliņš said Latvia has been calling for beefed-up security on the eastern flank of the nation as far back as 2008, when Russian aggression began against Georgia.

“A wake-up call for us was 2008,” he said.

“We couldn't foresee the extent and brutality of the war that Russia would wage against Ukraine right now, but once they are at it, so we have to be equally strong in our response to Russian unjustified and willful war.”

READ MORE: Canada to deploy CAF general, staff officers to join NATO headquarters in Latvia

He said there are battalions in four countries bordering Russia – Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania and Poland. The ambassador called this presence a strong signal of the need for continued security on Russian borders.

He said this is a matter that will be discussed at the NATO Summit in June.

Ozoliņš wanted to attend the send-off at CFB Shilo to express thanks and gratitude to Manitoban soldiers and their families, and to express the need for unity against Russian aggression.

“Basically, they have shattered the international rules-based order, and this is something that small states are very keen and very interested in, and they need to uphold that system and make sure it works. For that, we need to be united.”

- With files from CTV's Nicole Dubé