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Edmonton-based soldiers head to Latvia as part of NATO mission

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As the war on in Ukraine rages on, more than 100 Canadian soldiers are on their way to join NATO forces in Latvia as part of Operation Reassurance.

The troops, primarily based out of Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry, will be away for six months.

“Canada maintains a battle group in Latvia and we just rotate those soldiers every six months or so,” Maj. John Miller said.

Operation Reassurance dates back to 2014.

“Started in Poland, and the mission evolved over time and now we’re heavily invested in the country of Latvia itself.”

“We’re working to deter any aggression against Latvia as well as prevent any additional aggression inside Eastern Europe.”

Latvia borders on Russia.

“Basically NATO has called for help to essentially ring Russia and basically form an alliance that will prevent any other aggressions or security concerns in that part of the world.”

The Canadian troops will join soldiers from nine other NATO countries for training and integration into the Latvian army.

“If anyone does attack Latvia, we’re fighting with the Latvian army,” Miller said.

He added that some of the soldiers are being deployed for the first time, while others have been to Latvia before.

“For ones that are going back repeatedly they’re usually in a higher level job so it’s a new set of challenges so I would say generally overall there’s a feeling of excitement.”

A Latvian ambassador said Operation Reassurance does just that for the country’s citizens.

“We feel secure regardless of the fact that there is a war next to our doors,” Kaspars Ozolins said.

He also thanked the soldiers, who will be away from their families at Christmas.

“I also want to extend thanks to the family that are supporting soldiers to their mission to Latvia, for us it is very, very important mission.”

With files from CTV News Edmonton's Amanda Anderson.

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