WATCH ABOVE: With tensions rising in Crimea, what does this mean for Canadians in the region. Jacques Bourbeau reports

OTTAWA – The Department of Foreign Affairs is advising against travel to Ukraine’s Crimea region and says Canadians already there should consider leaving “while it is safe to do so.”

Story continues below


The warning comes as Russian President Vladimir Putin received permission to use the country’s military in Ukraine, moving to formalize troop deployments that Ukrainian officials have called an ongoing invasion of the strategic region of Crimea.

Foreign Affairs says its advisory is due to “political uncertainty” and reports of armed groups operating in the area, along with protests and public clashes.

READ MORE: Russian parliament allows Putin to use military in Ukraine

It says those who can’t leave Crimea – where the airports aren’t operating – should stay indoors and avoid large crowds and demonstrations.

The department is also advising against non-essential travel to Kyiv due to instability.

Putin’s request to Russia’s parliament loosely referred to the “territory of Ukraine” rather than specifically to Crimea, raising the possibility that Moscow could use military force in other Russian-speaking provinces in eastern and southern Ukraine.

Ukrainian officials and some Western diplomats said that a Russian military intervention is already well underway after heavily armed gunmen in unmarked military uniforms seized control of local government buildings, airports and other strategic facilities in Crimea in recent days.

Ignoring President Barack Obama’s warning Friday that “there will be costs” if Russia intervenes militarily, Putin said the “extraordinary situation in Ukraine” was putting at risk the lives of Russian citizens and military personnel stationed at a naval base that Moscow has maintained in the Black Sea peninsula since the Soviet collapse.

©2014The Canadian Press