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Canada Joins NATO Air-Policing Efforts In Response to Situation in Eastern Ukraine

The continuing escalation of the situation in eastern Ukraine has prompted NATO to solicit military assistance for its members to contain Russia. Over the next several months additional assets will be deployed in member nations that have gotten increasingly jittery over what they see as Russian aggression at their doorstep. Among those assets contributing to ongoing NATO air-policing efforts in eastern Europe will be six Royal Canadian Air Force CF-18 Hornets.

“Along with our NATO allies, we recognize the need to enhance security and stability in central and eastern Europe. To this end, Canada is offering the following capabilities to enhance the readiness of NATO allies: six Royal Canadian Air Force CF-18 fighter aircraft.”

Secretary General of NATO Anders Fogh Rasmussen, who is scheduled to leave that position on Oct. 1 2014, issued a statement April 13 that outlined the situation in eastern Ukraine. “We see a concerted campaign of violence by pro-Russian separatists, aiming to destabilize Ukraine as a sovereign state. The reappearance of men with specialized Russian weapons and identical uniforms without insignia, as previously worn by Russian troops during Russia’s illegal and illegitimate seizure of Crimea, is a grave development,” said Rasmussen. “I call on Russia to deescalate the crisis and pull back its large number of troops, including special forces, from the area around Ukraine’s border.”

Russian Buildup

On April 10, Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) released DigitalGlobe satellite imagery showing the buildup of Russian forces near the border with eastern Ukraine. This satellite image shows Russian fighters, likely Su-27 Flankers, and helicopters at Primorko-Akhtarsk Air Base in southern Russia. Photo courtesy of DigitalGlobe

To add teeth to that statement, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced on April 18 Canada’s contribution to those efforts. “Along with our NATO allies, we recognize the need to enhance security and stability in central and eastern Europe. To this end, Canada is offering the following capabilities to enhance the readiness of NATO allies: six Royal Canadian Air Force CF-18 fighter aircraft,” said Harper. The deploying CF-18 Hornets, the Canadian variant of the F/A-18 Hornet used by the U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps, will be stationed in Poland. “Canada remains steadfast in its support for Ukraine and will not stand idly by while its sovereignty and territorial integrity are threatened.”

Su-27 Flankers

Russian Air Force Su-27 Flankers intercept a simulated hijacked aircraft entering Russian airspace during Exercise Vigilant Eagle, Aug. 27, 2013. NATO air-policing efforts in eastern Europe are designed to deter aircraft like the Su-27 Flanker from entering the airspace of NATO members. U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Jason Robertson

Besides the CF-18s, up to 20 Canadian staff officers will bolster the current Canadian presence at Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers in Europe (SHAPE)l near Brussels, Belgium. Those staff officers will assist with NATO planning efforts. “Together with our allies, we will continue to monitor events closely and take coordinated action to enhance Europe’s security and show our support for the people of Ukraine,” concluded Harper.

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Steven Hoarn is the Editor/Photo Editor for Defense Media Network. He is a graduate of...