Canada, Latvia to jointly train Ukrainian soldiers starting Monday

Ukrainian servicemen load ammunition for a machine gun at their position at a front line in Donetsk region

OTTAWA (Reuters) -Canadian and Latvian armed forces on Monday will begin training Ukrainian soldiers in Latvia, Canada's Defence Minister Anita Anand said on Wednesday.

The training program will add to other Canadian efforts to train Ukrainian soldiers in the United Kingdom and in Poland, Anand told reporters in Ottawa. Canada has deployed about 800 troops in Latvia, which borders Russia and Belarus and has Canada's largest foreign military deployment.

"We must continue together to support Ukraine because the cost of doing nothing is far greater than the cost of our military aid," said Anand, speaking along side her Latvian counterpart Inara Murniece.

Canada has so far trained more than 36,000 Ukrainian troops, Anand said, adding that the training in Latvia will focus on Ukrainian junior officers, with help in areas including intelligence reconnaissance and battle planning.

There are about 170 Canadian troops deployed to the UK and some 80 soldiers to Poland to train Ukrainian soldiers.

Canada has led a NATO battlegroup in Latvia since 2017, and has been working to nearly double its presence there.

(Reporting by Ismail Shakil in Ottawa; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)