Growing concern over tensions between Russia and Ukraine has prompted many countries to order their foreign service representatives to evacuate the region. Russian President Vladimir Putin insists he has no intention of invading the former Soviet state, according to a report by Reuters. However, the growing military presence in Belarus – which includes tanks, artillery, ships and air forces – has led NATO allies and Western powers to believe otherwise.
Amid tensions, Canada’s diplomatic office has recalled all non-essential staff from its embassy in Kyiv, according to The hill. “Canada has made the decision to temporarily withdraw non-essential Canadian employees and remaining dependents from the Canadian Embassy in Ukraine,” Global Affairs Canada said in a statement on Sunday, January 30. This came nearly a week after Canada ordered the evacuation of the families of its diplomats.
“As we continue to monitor the situation closely, our top priority remains the safety and security of Canadians…Canada will strengthen the team at the Canadian Embassy in Kyiv, Ukraine, with officials with expertise in areas such as security sector reform, conflict management, democratic reform, consular services and diplomacy “, Global Affairs Canada noted. euro news notes that the Embassy will remain open while essential employees maintain operations. Canadians “in need” in Ukraine were asked to contact the Embassy.
An adviser to the chief of staff of the Ukrainian president, Mykhailo Podolyak, said The Globe and Mail of Canada newspaper that the decision to recall the families of the diplomats from Ukraine was understandable, but that it has weakened the morale of the Ukrainians. The Washington Post save Podolyak’s answer. He says that “overreacting to what the Russian Federation has done…makes Ukrainian society nervous.”
Despite the criticism, Canada’s response mirrors that of other Western countries, including the United States and the United Kingdom. The two countries also authorized the evacuation of some embassy staff and the families of their diplomats, given the threat of a possible Russian incursion. Germany and Australia have also recalled embassy staff and urged their citizens to leave the country, according to a report by The Washington Post.
In contrast, European Union (EU) foreign policy chief Josep Borrell says most EU members do not plan to cut their embassy staff immediately. “We are not going to do the same thing because we don’t know any specific reason,” Borrell said before meeting EU foreign ministers on Monday. In agreement, The New York Times reports that Ukrainian Foreign Ministry spokesman Oleg Nikolenko called the evacuation of American, British and Canadian diplomatic families last week “premature”.
In addition to withdrawing non-essential embassy staff, Canada has also joined NATO and other Western powers in diplomatically discouraging Russia from invading Ukraine. On Wednesday, January 26, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the Canadian government will continue to support Ukraine “based on what is best for the Ukrainian people and what is best for maintaining peace in the world,” according to a report by World News.
However, Canada has not yet decided to follow the UK’s lead in supplying “defensive” weapons to Ukrainian security forces. When asked why Canada had not provided additional military aid to Kiev, Trudeau said importing weapons of war could be interpreted as a pretext for Russia to step up hostilities. “While I won’t go into the operational details, I can tell you that the Canadian Armed Forces, the Canadian Foreign Service, our multilateral partners, we are all looking at a range of possibilities and contingencies to ensure that we are the better able to keep people safe and support the people of Ukraine,” Trudeau said.
Canada has been slower to respond to the crisis in Ukraine than other Western powers, including the United States and the United Kingdom. Their delay in withdrawing embassy personnel and their reluctance to provide defensive support indicate that Canada does not want Russia to feel provoked by the West. “One of the things we’ve seen is that Russia is looking for excuses or reasons to continue and even escalate its aggression against Ukraine,” Trudeau said. Moreover, Canada’s current determination to move slowly is based on the understanding that its diplomatic decisions have the potential to escalate the crisis.
With an estimated 100,000 Russian troops massed along the Ukrainian border, the eyes of the world are cautiously waiting for what is to come. The situation is changing daily as the Russian military presence expands. Putin rejects claims that Russia is positioning itself to attack. the BBC reports that Russian forces in the region will peak between February 10 and 20. “Together, we will increase our diplomatic capacity and enable us to continue to assess and respond to developments in support of Ukraine,” Global Affairs Canada added in a statement on Sunday.