Canada asked to send ‘strong signal’ to Russia by extending Ukraine military mission

Canada World

OTTAWA – Ukraine is asking Canada to send a “strong signal” to Russia by extending and expanding the Canadian military’s training mission there.In an interview with The Canadian Press on Monday, Ukrainian Ambassador Andriy Shevchenko expressed confidence that Canada would renew the military mission, whose mandate is up at the end of March.But the sooner an extension and expansion to Operation Unifier, as the mission is known, is announced, the better, he said.Story continues below

READ MORE: Canadian delegation to monitor Ukraine election amid fears of Russian interference“One of the ideas behind this Operation Unifier from the very beginning was to send a very strong signal to Russia to deter them and to make sure that they understand that Ukraine has very strong support at the international level,” Shevchenko said.“So the earlier we send this signal and the louder we say this, the stronger the signal should be. That is why we have always encouraged our Canadian partners to go ahead with the announcement of the renewal as quickly as possible.”The Canadian Forces have had about 200 service members in Ukraine since September 2015 to help train the country’s military, which is battling Russian-backed separatist forces.The U.S., Britain, Poland, Lithuania, Sweden and Denmark are also helping train the Ukrainians. The Canadians have trained more than 10,000 Ukrainian soldiers over more than three years, according to the Department of National Defence.While Canada’s mission initially focused on teaching Ukrainian troops the basics of soldiering, including how to use their weapons and move in units, it has since expanded to focus on more specific skills such as first aid as well as training some commanders.WATCH: Russia fences off annexed Crimea from Ukraine

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