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Canadian troops in Ukraine to return in April, to be replaced with smaller force

Last Updated Mar 26, 2020 at 1:21 pm MDT

Canadian troops arrive at a UN base in Gao, Mali, on Monday, June 25, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

OTTAWA — The Canadian Armed Forces plans to withdraw the 200 troops it currently has in Ukraine and replace them with a skeleton force next month until the COVID-19 pandemic has passed.

That means the soldiers will be returning to Canada as scheduled, though there was no immediate word on what quarantine restrictions the returning troops will be under, including whether they will be staying in their homes or barracks.

The soldiers first arrived in Ukraine in October as the latest Canadian contingent to take part in what is now a five-year mission to train Ukrainian soldiers.

The smaller 60-member force that will replace them is expected to largely hunker down and ride out the pandemic while maintaining the Canadian military’s presence in the country.

Military commanders had been weighing their options over what to do with the troops while there are strict orders against non-essential travel and activities to protect the Armed Forces from COVID-19.

The training mission was launched in 2015 after Russia annexed the Crimean peninsula and started to support separatist forces in Ukraine’s eastern Donbass region in a war that has killed more than 10,000 and left tens of thousands more wounded and homeless.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 26, 2020.

The Canadian Press