OTTAWA – The Liberal government is extending Canada’s military mission in Ukraine for another two years as it attempts to send a signal of continued solidarity with the eastern European country.
Canada first deployed about 200 troops to Ukraine in the summer of 2015 to help train government forces after Russia annexed Crimea and began supporting separatist forces in Ukraine’s Donbass region.
The mission, which Prime Minister Justin Trudeau toured during a visit to the country in July, had been set to expire at the end of March.
WATCH: Canada sends strong message to Russia by extending Ukraine mission
But Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan and Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland say Canadian troops will now remain in Ukraine until at least March 2019.
The decision is sure to be warmly welcomed by the Ukrainian government, which had publicly appealed for such an extension, as well as Canada’s large Ukrainian community.
National Defence says 3,200 Ukrainian troops have been trained by the Canadians in the basics of soldiering since the mission began.