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CF-18s sent to Lithuania

The Harper government has announced a strategic military shift in its ongoing response to the Ukraine crisis.

Six CF-18 fighter jets which had been based in Romania on a training mission since May will be moved to Russia's doorstep in Lithuania in September.

The jets were sent to Europe as part of NATO measure to thwart what Prime Minister Stephen Harper has called Russia's "persistent military aggression" in Ukraine.

A statement from National Defence says the CF-18s will be deployed in Lithuania until December as part of a NATO Baltic Air Policing program.

While participating in the program, National Defence says the CF-18s will work with NATO allies and respond to "any violations of Baltic air space."

Harper has announced a series of measures to punish Russia for what he has called an illegal occupation of the Crimean peninsula in Ukraine.‘

Canada has imposed a series of economic sanctions and travel bans against Russian and Ukrainian individuals, expelled a Russian diplomat and earmarked $220 million to help stabilize the Ukrainian economy.

"Our government is steadfast in our support for Ukraine and will not stand idly by while its sovereignty and territorial integrity are threatened," said Defence Minister Rob Nicholson in a statement.

"‘Canada will continue to demonstrate the strength of allied solidarity in response to Russian aggression."

The Canadian Press

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