TORONTO — Russia called Canada's decision to send 200 military trainers to Ukraine "counterproductive and deplorable" on Wednesday.
On Tuesday, Canada announced 200 soldiers will be posted in western Ukraine, joining U.S. and British soldiers early this summer.
The mission will last until March 31, 2017. Britain is sending up to 75 military trainers. The U.S. has committed 800 troops to train three battalions in western Ukraine. The move comes after a request from the government of Ukraine.
The Russian Embassy in Ottawa said in a statement that Canada's actions are fueling a military build-up.
"It does not help in any way the settlement of the internal fratricidal conflict in that country," the embassy said. "While foreign ministers of France, Germany, Russia and Ukraine ... called for enhanced intra-Ukrainian political dialogue, it is neither appropriate, nor helpful to assist the military build-up playing into the hands of 'party of war in Kiev'," the statement added.
Canadian Defense Minister Jason Kenney said the deployment sends Russian President Vladimir Putin a message of resolution and deterrence. Kenney emphasized the troops will be far from the conflict zone. About 150 soldiers will be housed at a NATO training center in Yavoriv, near the Polish border. Kenney also said between 25 to 30 troops will be also stationed at the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense Demining Center in Kamyanets-Podilsky, also in western Ukraine.
Canada is home to more than 1 million people of Ukrainian descent.