Canada is considering the deployment of CF-18 fighters in Ukraine

Canada is considering the deployment of CF-18 fighters in Ukraine

Canada is considering bolstering its military mission in Ukraine, amid a debate over whether additional NATO forces would deter Russian President Vladimir Putin from further aggression against his country’s neighbour.

Two sources with knowledge of the deliberations said Defence Minister Anita Anand is considering deploying hundreds of additional troops to support the Canadian soldiers already in Ukraine on a training mission. Other options being looked at include moving a warship into the Black Sea, or redeploying some of the CF-18 fighter jets based in Romania, The Globe and Mail reports.

Any reinforcement would be intended as a message to Mr. Putin, who has raised alarm for the second time this year by amassing troops and equipment near his country’s borders with Ukraine.

By some estimates, there are now just shy of 100,000 Russian soldiers within a short drive of Ukraine – a country Mr. Putin has never seen as a fully sovereign state, and one he is determined to keep from joining the U.S.-led North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

While Ukraine is worried about the possibility of a large-scale invasion, others see the Russian buildup as a bargaining ploy – one backed by Mr. Putin’s proven willingness to use military force to achieve his aims.

Canada has some 200 troops based in the far west of the country – more than 1,000 kilometres from the Russian border – on a mission to train their Ukrainian counterparts. The two sources, whom The Globe is not naming because they were not authorized to publicly discuss the deliberations, said no decision had yet been made about deploying additional forces, despite pleas from the Ukrainian delegation at the recent Halifax Security Forum for Canada and NATO to do more.

Last week, Ukrainian defence officials went to Washington to ask for more military help. While Russia has claimed the large-scale deployments don’t foreshadow an invasion, but the Ukrainians say the current buildup and Russia’s recent actions are far from ordinary, reported by Defence One.

“Just a couple of weeks ago, Russia and Belarus developed a joint military doctrine,” said Anatolii Petrenko, Ukraine’s deputy defence minister. “They started patrolling [the] Belarus borders with air patrols, including Russian bombers, strategic bombers like Tupolev [Tu]-160, Tupolev [Tu]-22. And this is atypical.”

“We are concerned about possible use of missiles, which could impact our civil, critical infrastructure. We are very much concerned about tactical operations emanating from Crimea,” he said.

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