Canada withdraws its military trainers in Ukraine west across the Dnipro River
Amid fears of a potential Russian offensive in the east of Ukraine, around two hundred Canadian military trainers have been relocated to the west of the Dnipro River, Canada’s Defense Minister Anita Anand told Canadian news outlet The Globe and Mail during her visit to Kyiv on Jan. 30.
While Anand did not, for “security reasons,” detail why or when the decision had been made to move the training detachment, she echoed a growing number of Western military experts who warn that a potential Russian invasion of eastern Ukraine could be imminent.
The Dnipro flows through Ukraine from the north, through the capital Kyiv, to the Black Sea in the south, near the city of Kherson.
“It’s generally well-known to be the case that there is Russian aggression at the Ukrainian border and in Belarus, and we are acting accordingly,” Anand said.
“This is a decision made not by me alone, by our government, and we will continue to monitor the evolving, fluid and very concerning situation, and make decisions accordingly.”
Around 200 Canadian military service members are in Ukraine as part of Operation UNIFIER, bolstering Ukraine’s defensive capabilities by means of training and joint military drills. The mission began after Russia annexed Crimea and occupied parts of the Donbas in 2014.
UNIFIER has already trained over 30,000 Ukrainian soldiers, according to Anand.
The troop relocation was announced by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Jan. 26, who said that soldiers participating in UNIFIER were to “focus all in western Ukraine where the risks (associated with a potential Russian invasion) are lowest.”
Trudeau added that the number of Canadian military trainers will now be increased to as many as 400, and the UNIFIER mission will be extended by another three years, at a cost of CAD 340 million ($267 million).
Since the end of October 2021, Russia has been massing troops close to the Ukrainian border.
Russia has since deployed more than 130,000 troops and offensive weapons near the Ukrainian border and in the temporarily occupied parts of the country, according to the latest intelligence estimate by the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine.
On Jan. 19, Canada’s Foreign Minister Mélanie Joly said that Canadian government is considering sending weapons to Ukraine.
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