Remarks at NATO Summit in Lithuania
This is a consequential moment for NATO, but also for the world. For two days, leaders have been focused on reinforcing NATO’s strong defence of democracy, and NATO has been made stronger as we officially welcomed Finland and moved forward on Sweden’s succession.
The fact that we are here in a Baltic state, so close to Russia, which has been waging an illegal war against another of its neighbours for over 500 days, highlights the critical importance of our collective defence.
I arrived in the Baltics a day ahead of the summit and visited the Canadian Armed Forces in Latvia. While there, we made a historic announcement. We are renewing and expanding our contributions to Operation Reassurance. This includes increased financial and troop commitments that will scale up the Canadian led NATO battle group to a brigade by 2026.
This $2.6 billion commitment more than doubles the number of brave women and men of the Canadian Armed Forces deployed as part of this multinational effort. Canada has mobilized to lead this force across NATO’s Eastern Flank. We are currently strengthening our presence because we absolutely must deter any further aggression from Russia.
Canada has been stepping up in this region of Europe and providing significant support to Ukraine since Putin’s annexation of Crimea. We’ve trained almost 40,000 Ukrainian military and security personnel through Operation Unifier and I can announce today that through this operation and we're welcoming officer cadets from Ukraine to train at Royal Military College Centre Saint-Jean for an intensive training program developed in partnership with NATO. For over 500 days now, Ukraine has withstood Russian brutalities. Putin made a grave miscalculation. He underestimated Ukrainians courage and he underestimated the strength of the West’s solidarity and resolve. Today, the G7 came together to announce our enduring support of Ukraine’s defence and launched a process to provide long term multi-year commitments to their security. Ukraine is fighting to make sure that borders their own or anywhere else around the world mean something that might does not make right. This announcement gives Ukraine the certainty of our support as it protects its citizens, its sovereignty and its territorial integrity. For support in the more immediate term, we will be providing drone cameras, delivering on a request Ukraine made when I visited Kyiv just a few weeks ago in June.
We have also signed an agreement with other allies to provide F-16 training to the Ukrainian air force. Cybersecurity assistance and additional funding are also being provided in support of the Comprehensive Assistance Package. To date, Canada has provided more than $8 billion in military, financial and humanitarian support to Ukraine. We will support the Ukrainian people for as long as it takes, because they are fighting not only for their freedom and democracy, but for ours as well. In my meeting with President Zelenskyy today, I once again reaffirmed Canada’s unwavering support for Ukraine.
The world is facing many serious challenges and we must remain ready to respond no matter what form they take. Climate change is one of these challenges. As Canada deals with its own impacts of climate change, with ongoing wildfires across the country that are particularly bad in British Columbia today and our thoughts go out to people in BC as well as significant flooding in parts of Quebec. We see our friends dealing with extreme weather events too, either floods in parts of northeastern United States, fatal mudslides in Japan and dangerous heatwaves in Italy. We're all going to need to be there for each other more and more, given the impacts of climate change. As a northern country, Canada understands well how something like a warming Arctic is reshaping the security landscape.
We’re working with NATO to establish the Climate Change and Security Centre of Excellence. Earlier today, Minister Anand signed the founding document for the Centre, which will open its doors in Montréal later this year. At this point, we need to be clear that climate policy is also security policy, economic policy and social policy. When Putin attempted to militarize energy, European countries began to reduce their dependence on Russian fossil fuels and turn even more swiftly to clean energy. As our allies make this transition, Canada is ready to be the reliable supplier of clean energy they’ll need.
Emerging and disruptive technologies also pose a risk to global stability and as such Canada has taken a leadership role in bringing together promising start ups and innovators to help NATO retain its technological edge. We’re doing this through contributions to the Defence Innovation Accelerator for the North Atlantic, DIANA, and we’re proud that Halifax has been selected to house the North American office. We’re also making investments in our defence capabilities at home. Today, we announced a $450 million investment in our fleet of minor warships and auxiliary vessels, which includes vessels deployed as a part of Operation Reassurance. This is part of the national Shipbuilding strategy, which will help create jobs at small and medium sized shipyards right across Canada.
The global security environment is evolving rapidly, and Canada has made some transformative investments in recent years. For instance, we’re purchasing 88 F-35 fighter jets, and we’ve made major investments to significantly improve Canadian NORAD capabilities in support of North America’s continental defence.
I had the chance to speak and meet with leaders from many regions as NATO came together to talk about Euro-Atlantic security. We also met with partners from the Indo-Pacific. We stand for the same things, including supporting Ukraine and upholding the rules based international order everywhere no matter which oceans your posts touch. The work we’ve done together at this summit as allies and partners has made NATO an even stronger alliance. We are inextricably bound by our shared values of democracy, freedom and human rights and the rule of law and this bond is iron clad. We stand united in support of Ukraine and are more ready than ever to defend and defend and defend and deter threats to peace, stability and prosperity. As Prime Minister, there is no greater responsibility than protecting the safety and security of Canadians by coming together each year to work with NATO, which is the strongest defence alliance in history. Canada is safeguarding freedom and security around the world, especially at home.