close
Canadian army

NATO chief advises Russia against attacking supply lines supporting Ukraine

The NATO Secretary General has warned that a Russian attack on the supply lines of allied countries supporting Ukraine with arms and ammunition would be a dangerous escalation of the war raging in Eastern Europe.

Jens Stoltenberg made the remarks Tuesday during an interview with CBC News as he, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the leaders of Spain and Latvia toured the NATO base and training range at Adazi , outside Riga, the Latvian capital.

“Allies are helping Ukraine uphold its right to self-defense, which is enshrined in the UN charter,” Stoltenberg said after meeting with Trudeau, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez and Latvian Prime Minister Arturs. Krišjānis Kariņš at Adazi base.

“Russia is the aggressor and Ukraine is defending itself. If there is an attack on a NATO country, a NATO territory, it will trigger Article 5.”

Article 5 is the self-defense clause of NATO’s founding treaty which states that an attack on one member is an attack on all 30 member countries.

“I am absolutely convinced that President Putin knows this and we remove any possibility of miscalculation, of misunderstanding about our commitment to defending every square inch of NATO territory,” Stoltenberg said.

The United States and its allies, including Canada, have been in a race against time to send arms and ammunition to Ukraine, which has been under relentless assault by Russian forces for more than two weeks.

Some members of the US intelligence community fear that Moscow is trying to cut off the flow of weapons into Ukraine, either with airstrikes or long-range artillery. Weapons coming from the West are unloaded in neighboring countries, such as Poland, and then transported by land.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, left, and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg walk during their visit to the Adazi military base in Kadaga, Latvia on Tuesday March. 8, 2022. (Roman Koksarov/AP)

Stoltenberg said there is a clear distinction between supply lines within Ukraine and those operating outside its borders.

“There is a war in Ukraine and, of course, supply lines inside Ukraine can be attacked,” he said.

“An attack on NATO territory, on NATO forces, on NATO capabilities, that would be an attack on NATO.”

Stoltenberg said NATO’s message to Russia is that “they must end the war, that we will continue to support Ukraine, and that we will continue to impose unprecedented sanctions.”

Poland offers fighter jets to Ukraine

The stakes appeared to rise dramatically on Tuesday night when Poland announced it was ready to transfer all of its MiG-29 planes to the United States so they could be handed over to the Ukrainians.

The Polish Foreign Ministry has urged other NATO members with the same type of Russian-made warplanes to do the same.

WATCH | Ukrainian Chargé d’Affaires Andrii Bukvych says fighter jets are needed immediately

Ukraine needs fighter jets and a no-fly zone (diplomat)

“We need these fighters [jets] and sheltered skies as soon as possible,” said Ukrainian Chargé d’Affaires Andrii Bukvych. “Otherwise the cost will be calculated in thousands of civilians.” 6:59

The United States suggested that it would support Poland by providing replacement fighters. But in a tweet on Tuesday evening, the Pentagon said the proposal was not “sustainable” because it would involve fighter jets in the hands of Americans flying in “airspace that is disputed with Russia. .

“[That] raises serious concerns for the entire NATO alliance.”

The West has sent Ukraine thousands of anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles since the war broke out.

Ukrainian civilians receive weapons training, on the outskirts of Lviv, western Ukraine, Monday, March 7, 2022. (Bernat Armangue/AP)

A Canadian shipment of small arms – including machine guns, carbines and 15 million rounds – arrived in Ukraine just before the Russian invasion. The Liberal government has pledged to send anti-tanks and grenade launchers, but it is not known if the shipment has arrived.

Some of the lethal aid is taken from the Canadian Armed Forces’ own stocks. This highlighted some of the shortcomings facing the Canadian military; the Canadian army does not have its own dedicated anti-aircraft system, for example.

Trudeau was asked on Tuesday if his government was ready to place an urgent supply order to equip the Canadian army in response to the war and Ottawa’s plans to increase the contingent of Canadian troops in Latvia.

“All of these weapons are far more useful right now and in the weeks to come in the hands of Ukrainian soldiers fighting for their lives than they would be in the hands of Canadians,” Trudeau said.

“But of course we have to make sure that we replace those weapons quickly and that we continue to invest in the equipment that allows our armed forces to be able to continue contributing.”

A Russian MiG-29 aircraft in flight outside Moscow on August 11, 2012. (Misha Japaridze/Associated Press)

Trudeau, Stoltenberg and the other leaders visited a training range on Tuesday where troops from a 10-nation contingent were conducting a live-fire training exercise. They walked among armored personnel carriers, tanks and mobile guns and chatted with the troops.

Colonel Sandris Gaugers is the commander of the Latvian mechanized brigade working with the NATO battle group. He said integrating equipment and procedures from different armies has been a challenge but the mission is succeeding.

“Certainly we can go fight”

“Honestly, if I had to say, can we go fight? Sure, we can go fight,” he told Trudeau, Stoltenberg and Sanchez as they overlooked the training area from a position at the top of a hill.

Canada has pledged to add an artillery battery of 120 soldiers to its current commitment of 540 soldiers and staff in Latvia.

General Wayne Eyre, Canada’s top military commander, told CBC News in an exclusive interview on Tuesday that he is currently focused on organizing those reinforcements.

“We have the same challenge we had in World War I, World War II,” the Chief of the Defense Staff said. “We have to cross this great lake known as the Atlantic and we only have limited strategic lift capability. So we are going to have an effect on the ground here very soon.”

Canada activates NATO reinforcements

The federal government has ordered the activation of 3,400 reinforcements who could join the NATO Response Force (NFR) if called by the Supreme Allied Commander.

Eyre said the military is still investigating if and how they will be needed.

“The NATO Response Force is a shopping list of capabilities, which can be requested depending on the nature of what NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander is requesting,” he said. “So the likelihood of all 3,400 being called is relatively low.”

Trudeau also announced on Tuesday the anticipated renewal of Canada’s military contribution to the NATO deterrence mission, known as Operation Reassurance.

WATCH: Canada renews Operation Reassurance

Canada renews NATO’s Operation Reassurance

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the renewal of Operation Reassurance a year before its scheduled end during his visit to Latvia. 1:11

“As Russia continues its unwarranted and unjustifiable attacks on Ukraine, Canada stands united with our European allies in supporting Ukraine and the Ukrainian people, and democracy and human rights everywhere,” said Trudeau on Tuesday.

The mandate to deploy hundreds of Canadian troops to Latvia was set to expire in 2023. The federal cabinet extended it indefinitely in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Prior to the invasion, the Liberal government signaled in Defense Minister Anita Anand’s mandate letter that it intended to renew the mandate of the NATO mission. Stoltenberg welcomed the move when he and the three prime ministers met the media after their meetings.

Tags : armed forcescanadian armedcanadian armyprime ministerunited states
Rodney N.

The author Rodney N.