Ottawa [Canada], February 21 (ANI/Sputnik): The Canadian government is advising its citizens to avoid travelling to Belarus, citing risks of an "armed conflict with Ukraine."
"Avoid non-essential travel to Belarus due to the risk of arbitrary enforcement of local laws and the risk of armed conflict with Ukraine," the Canadian government warned in an updated travel advisory on Sunday.
According to the release, the ability of the Canadian embassy in Poland to provide consular services in Belarus is "extremely limited."
"If you are in Belarus and your presence isn't essential, you should consider leaving by commercial means," the Canadian government said, urging its citizens to also "avoid all travel to areas within 50 km [31 miles] of the border with Ukraine" in the Belarusian regions of Brest and Gomel, "due to Belarusian-Russian joint military exercises and the risk of armed conflict with Ukraine."
Earlier this month, Canada temporarily suspended the work of its embassy in the Ukrainian capital amid concerns over the security situation in Kyiv and moved its diplomatic staff to a temporary office in Lviv.
Canadian citizens were urged to avoid travelling to Ukraine and to leave the country immediately if already there.
In the past few months, the West and Ukraine have accused Russia of a troop build-up near the Ukrainian border in alleged preparation for an "invasion." Moscow has denied these accusations, repeatedly stating that it is not threatening anyone and at the same time expressing strong concerns over NATO's military activity near the Russian borders, which it deems a threat to its national security. Moscow has also said Russia has the right to move troops within its national territory.
Belarus and Russia have agreed to continue their joint "Union Courage 2022" drills that started earlier this month amid an escalation of hostilities in Ukraine's southeast (Donbas). The pro-Russian separatist Luhansk and Donetsk People's Republics (LPR and DPR) announced the evacuation of their citizens to Russia's Rostov Region on Friday amid fears of an attack by Kyiv forces. LPR and DPR have been reporting constant shelling of their territories by Kyiv forces, including with the use of artillery prohibited by the Minsk peace deal. Several civilians have been killed as a result of the Kyiv forces' shelling, according to the breakaway republics. (ANI/Sputnik)