Canada has deployed a small contingent of special forces operators to Ukraine, Canada’s Global News reported on Monday, after security talks last week ended without a breakthrough in resolving tensions between Moscow and Kyiv.
Russia has stationed more than 100,000 troops near the border with Ukraine, and the United States said on Friday it was concerned that Russia was preparing a pretext to invade if diplomacy failed to meet its objectives.
The Canadian special operations presence is part of an attempt by NATO allies to deter Russian aggression in Ukraine, and to identify ways to assist the Ukrainian government, Global News reported, citing unspecified sources.
The unit has also been tasked with helping to develop evacuation plans for Canadian diplomatic personnel in the event of a full-scale invasion, Global News said.
A spokesperson for the Canadian Special Operations Forces Command said it could not confirm the report, but said it has supported the Ukrainian security forces on a periodic basis since autumn of 2020.
Canadian Foreign Minister Melanie Joly was in Kyiv to discuss efforts to deter “aggressive actions” by Russia and met Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmygal on Monday.
Canada, which has the world’s third-largest Ukrainian population after Ukraine and Russia, has maintained a 200-strong training mission in western Ukraine since 2015.
On Sunday, it urged Canadians to avoid non-essential travel to Ukraine, in a new advisory citing “Russian aggression.”