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A security guard speaks on a mobile phone outside the U.S. embassy in Kyiv, Ukraine. Canada has ordered family members of diplomatic staff stationed in Ukraine to leave the country a day after the United States, Britain, Germany and Australia announced similar steps.GLEB GARANICH/Reuters

Canada has ordered family members of diplomatic staff stationed in Ukraine to leave the country, a day after the United States, Britain, Germany and Australia announced similar steps. The move comes amid fears that Russian President Vladimir Putin could soon order an invasion of Ukraine.

Global Affairs issued a statement confirming the move: “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.”

On Monday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said his government was “following the situation in Ukraine extremely closely,” after being asked whether Canada would follow the lead of its allies and the dependents of diplomatic staff to leave Ukraine. “There are many contingency plans in place. The safety of Canadian diplomats and families is, of course, paramount.”

The embassy in Kyiv and the Canadian consulate in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv will remain open.

Oleg Nikolenko, a spokesman for the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry, said the evacuation of diplomatic families was “premature.”

“While we respect right of foreign nations to ensure safety and security of their diplomatic missions, we believe such a step to be a premature one and an instance of excessive caution,” he wrote on Twitter following the U.S. announcement. Mr. Nikolenko said Ukraine was “grateful” that the large majority of the 129 embassies and diplomatic missions in the country were not evacuating.

“It is extremely important to avoid activity that could be used in the information space to increase tensions in society and destabilize the economic and financial security of Ukraine,” he said.

Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to President Voldymyr Zelensky’s chief of staff, said it was understandable that Canada and other Western governments were sending diplomatic families home in order to minimize the risk to their citizens. But he cautioned that “alarmist” reactions to the Russian military buildup around Ukraine were damaging the country’s morale.

“We are calmly assessing the measures they take. We fully understand why they are doing this,” Mr. Podolyak said in an interview inside the Presidential Administration building in Kyiv, referring specifically to the Canadian Embassy announcement. “On the other hand, overreacting to what the Russian Federation has been doing … is making Ukrainian society nervous.”

Mr. Podolyak said he wished more Western governments would mix their messages of concern about Russia’s military moves with statements of support and confidence in the Ukrainian economy. He praised Canada’s announcement last week of a $120-million loan to Ukraine as an “excellent” example of how Ukraine’s friends can help it in the current situation.

The Canadian announcement comes as Russia continues to amass an invasion-sized force of more than 100,000 soldiers – plus vast amounts of tanks, artillery and other weaponry – on three sides of Ukraine. Western diplomats are increasingly concerned that Mr. Putin plans to order a full-scale attack on the country, an assault they fear could include encircling Kyiv to force the capitulation of the Ukrainian government.

Russia has continued to build up its military near Ukraine, preparing for a possible invasion in the coming days. Mark MacKinnon, The Globe’s senior international correspondent, is in Kyiv and explains what is motivating Vladimir Putin and how Canada and its NATO allies are working on a diplomatic solution.

The Globe and Mail

Mr. Putin believes Ukraine has been under de facto Western management since a 2014 revolution that deposed the Kremlin-backed regime of Viktor Yanukovych. Russia has demanded guarantees that Ukraine will never be invited to join the U.S.-led NATO alliance, and Mr. Putin has warned that his country will resort to “military-technical” steps if its demands are not met.

The U.S. and NATO have said Moscow can never be given a veto over who does and doesn’t join the alliance.

On Tuesday, the Kremlin said it was the U.S. that escalating tensions after the Pentagon said it was putting 8,500 troops on alert for potential deployment to NATO countries in Eastern Europe. “We are watching these U.S. actions with great concern,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.

Since Jan. 16, Canada has been advising citizens to avoid non-essential travel to Ukraine “due to ongoing Russian threats and military buildup in and around the country.” The advisory says Canadians already in Ukraine “should evaluate if your presence is essential.”

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