Ottawa (AFP) - Canada will scale back its training of the Ukraine military -- started in 2015 in response to Russia's annexation of Crimea -- due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the defense department said Thursday.
Two hundred soldiers were scheduled to deploy in early April to relieve a group now in Ukraine, but the number will be scaled back to 60 personnel, according to a statement.
"In light of the current COVID-19 pandemic situation both at home and abroad, and the suspension of non-critical activities on CAF (Canadian Armed Forces) deployed operations, there will be a reduction in the number of personnel departing in early April on Op UNIFIER," it said.
"The need for additional personnel to deploy into theatre will be reassessed as the situation evolves."
Canada was the first country to recognize Ukraine's independence in 1991 and has more than 1.3 million people of Ukrainian descent in its territory, a diaspora that arrived in successive waves over a period of 125 years.
Since 2015, Canada has provided arms, military engineering, logistics, military policing, and medical training to more than 17,000 Ukranian soldiers as part a joint operation with Britain and the United States.