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Canada said Wednesday it would boost its diplomatic presence in central and eastern Europe as well as the Caucasus, opening four new embassies to "help counter Russia's destabilizing activities" in the region, as the war in Ukraine drags on.
The announcement came as Group of Seven and NATO leaders including Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau meet this week, with how best to support Kyiv in its battle with Moscow atop the agenda of both summits.
"Canada is announcing that we are increasing our diplomatic footprint. Canada will be opening four new embassies in Estonia, Lithuania, Slovakia and Armenia," Foreign Minister Melanie Joly said on the sidelines of a NATO summit in Madrid.
"This diplomatic expansion will help guide Canada's response to evolving security threats, enhance political and economic cooperation to support European allies, and further counter the impacts of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and support Armenia in its democratic development," the ministry said in a statement.
The ministry said the changes would also "further enhance Canada's engagement in the region, help counter Russia's destabilizing activities and increase support for Operation REASSURANCE."
That international military operation, under which 1,400 Canadian soldiers are deployed in Latvia, is currently Ottawa's biggest. Its goal is to reinforce NATO's collective defense.
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"We believe that diplomacy remains one of the most effective ways to support security and stability," Joly said in Madrid.