OTTAWA—Global Affairs Canada says “non-essential” Canadian employees and their dependents from the embassy in Ukraine will be temporarily withdrawn amid concerns over a buildup of Russian troops along the country’s borders.
A statement released Sunday says officials are monitoring the situation and their highest priority is the safety of Canadians, for whom the embassy remains open.
The move comes after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced supports for Ukraine last week, including expanding Canada’s efforts to train the Ukrainian military and sending non-lethal military equipment, such as body armour.
Trudeau stressed at a news conference last Wednesday that “this is not a combat mission,” but it’s intended to help Ukraine defend itself against Russian aggression.
The statement from Global Affairs says the team at the Canadian Embassy in Kyiv will be reinforced by officials with expertise in areas such as conflict management, democratic reform and consular services, helping to increase diplomatic capacity.
Much of the current standoff between Russia and NATO has revolved around Moscow’s demand that Ukraine never be allowed into the transatlantic military alliance, which includes Canada, the United States and 28 European countries.
The Kremlin has also demanded that NATO withdraw all its forces from the territory of member states that once belonged to the Soviet Union.
The alliance has rejected the demand, leading to fears of a new war in Europe.
With a $340-million commitment to extend Canada’s training mission in Ukraine for three years, the prime minister said last week that he had authorized the Canadian Armed Forces to deploy 60 additional personnel to join the 200 troops already on the ground, with further capacity to increase that number to 400.
Trudeau also committed $50 million in development and humanitarian aid to Ukraine, on top of a $120-million loan offered to help stabilize its economy.
NATO members are also in talks about bolstering the alliance’s presence across eastern Europe as a further deterrent to war, with some allies such as France and Denmark having already announced additional commitments.