Canada orders families of diplomats out of Ukraine as fears mount over Russian threat

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The Canadian government is now ordering the families of diplomats stationed at the embassy in Ukraine to leave the country as concerns continue to mount about the threat of a Russian incursion.

That comes after Global Affairs Canada had on Monday declined to say whether such an order was coming, just hours before officials there updated the language in the advisory notice for Canadians still in Ukraine to “evaluate if (their) presence is essential.”

“The safety and security of Canadians, our personnel and their families at our missions abroad is our top priority. Due to the ongoing Russian military buildup and destabilizing activities in and around Ukraine, we have decided to temporarily withdraw Canadian embassy staff’s children under 18 years of age and family members accompanying them,” said Global Affairs Canada in a statement.

“Officials at Global Affairs Canada and at the Embassy of Canada to Ukraine in Kyiv will continue to closely monitor the situation.”

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The United States and United Kingdom both pulled the families of their diplomats in Ukraine out of the country earlier in the week, citing concerns about the potential for a Russian invasion. European Union member states, in contrast, have kept the dependents of their diplomats in place.

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Global News reported on Monday that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s cabinet, which is meeting at a three-day virtual retreat until Wednesday, is weighing a proposal to send small firearms and ammunition to Ukraine.

That could include countering cyberattacks or increased intelligence sharing, the sources said. They added the weaponry being considered includes pistols, rifles, sniper rifles, machine guns and ammunition.

Trudeau is expected to make an announcement after the cabinet retreat ends on Wednesday.

Sources said the government is looking to take a hard, clear stance in support of Ukraine, while limiting the potential to inflame already heated tensions with Russia as that country continues to mass troops on the Ukrainian border.

Ukrainian officials have made three specific requests of the government, which they say would support them in defending against Russian aggression: expanding and extending Canada’s military training mission in Ukraine; providing defensive weapons and equipment; and imposing severe sanctions.

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Sources told Global News the Canadian Forces are preparing to be able to ship the weapons in question if cabinet approves the proposal, which a senior national security source said is expected.

More to come.

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