FILE – In this Jan. 8, 2013 file photo, missionaries for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints walk through the halls at the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)

SALT LAKE CITY — Missionaries for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are being moved out of Ukraine, as fears of a possible Russian invasion increase. Church leaders announced Monday afternoon that many of the impacted missionaries will be reassigned to neighboring countries in Europe.

Church spokesperson Sam Penrod said that due to ongoing uncertainty in Ukraine, church leaders were temporarily reassigning full-time missionaries assigned to both the Ukraine Dnipro and Ukraine Kyiv/Moldova missions to locations outside of Ukraine. The decision was made out of an abundance of caution, as some government embassies in Ukraine are preparing to move certain personnel and their family members.

The announcement came as the Pentagon reported that about 8,500 troops were being placed on heightened alert, so they will be prepared to deploy to Ukraine. Tens of thousands of Russian troops have amassed near the border during the past month, as world leaders have sought diplomacy.

Penrod said many of the missionaries in Ukraine are being reassigned to missions in Europe, 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.

The statement concluded, “We pray for a peaceful resolution to the tensions in Ukraine and look forward to when the missionaries may return.

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