(AFP). Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Wednesday expressed “real concerns” over a more assertive Russia, as his government reportedly considers taking command of a new NATO battalion in the Baltics.
“We have real concerns about Russia and about its actions and we will be thoughtful and firm, as I have always been, on how we re-engage with Russia,” Trudeau told a press conference.
Speaking ahead of a landmark summit in Warsaw on July 8-9, the prime minister reiterated Canada’s demand that Russia abide by the Minsk agreement, which called for a ceasefire and a range of political, economic and social measures to end the conflict in eastern Ukraine.
The ethnically Russian region remains a flashpoint, and violence there occurs almost daily.
Russia is accused by Ukraine and its western allies of fomenting trouble on the heels of its annexation of Crimea after the pro-Moscow regime in Kiev was ousted by a popular revolt.
Trudeau called Russia’s actions in Ukraine “illegitimate and irresponsible.”
Earlier, Russian President Vladimir Putin slammed NATO for its “aggressive actions” close to Russia’s border, warning that it was forcing Russia to increase its military capacity.
NATO said last week that it would deploy 4,000 troops to Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland to deter Russia and reassure allies.
Ottawa has reportedly been asked to command one of the four battalions.
France’s government, meanwhile, said on Wednesday that a new summit on Ukraine is possible next month in light of “progress” in the crisis.