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SALT LAKE CITY — Missionaries of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have left Ukraine temporarily, according to a church spokesman, as the international political community remains at an impasse over Ukraine's future.
"The decision is made out of an abundance of caution, as some government embassies in Ukraine are preparing to move certain personnel and their family members," Sam Penrod said.
Nations, companies and other organizations are watching closely as Russia has massed an estimated 100,000 troops near Ukraine's border during debate over whether Ukraine might join NATA and other issues. U.S. President Joe Biden has directed the Pentagon to put about 8,500 U.S.-based troops on heightened alert for potential deployment to Europe to reassure allies amid rising fears of a possible Russian military move on Ukraine, reported the Associated Press.
The church reassigned full-time missionaries in the Ukraine Dnipro and Ukraine Kyiv/Moldova missions to missions in other countries. Some were moved to Germany, the Deseret News has learned.
"Many of these missionaries are being reassigned to missions in Europe," Penrod said, "and a few missionaries who are approaching their planned release date will complete their missionary service and return home. Missionaries who have recently been called to Ukraine will receive a temporary assignment elsewhere. Some missionaries will serve in Moldova, which is away from any potential conflict areas.
"We pray for a peaceful resolution to the tensions in Ukraine and look forward to when the missionaries may return."
The church occasionally removes missionaries or entire missions due to war, civil unrest, pandemic or other security or health reasons.
In November, the church temporarily sent to Kenya the missionaries who were serving in Ethiopia, which was experiencing civil unrest.
The mission president and his wife recently spoke on the Church News podcast about working through that experience and the pandemic.