Canadian troops watching Ukraine-Russia tensions

The commander of Canadian troops in Ukraine says his soldiers are pushing ahead with their mission despite growing concerns about a potential Russian invasion.

Lt.-Col. Luc-Frederic Gilbert commands a contingent of about 200 unarmed Canadian soldiers tasked with training their Ukrainian counterparts in everything from the basics of soldiering to advanced engineering and medical skills.

Known as Operation Unifier, the training mission was first launched in 2015 in response to Russia’s seizure of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula the previous year, as well as its support for separatist forces in the eastern part of the country.

More than six years later, there are new concerns of a Russian invasion, with Moscow having mobilized tens of thousands of troops and equipment on Ukraine’s borders.

Despite the buildup and apparently stalled diplomatic talks this week between the U.S., NATO and Russia to defuse the situation, Gilbert says his troops have not changed how they operate and are going on with their mission as normal.

Gilbert did say Canadian officials are closely watching Russia’s activities, though he would not reveal which actions his troops are ready to take should Moscow decide to invade, citing operational security.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 13, 2022.

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