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Australia offers temporary refuge to Ukrainians

March 5, 2014

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Australia has offered temporary refuge to visiting Ukrainians due to soon return to their country, which is in turmoil.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop told Parliament on Wednesday that Ukrainian nationals could apply for visa extensions to stay temporarily in Australia “while their nation is under threat.”

Russian troops control the Crimea region of Ukraine amid concerns the country could be close to war.

Bishop described the situation in Ukraine as “highly charged and volatile.”

“We are concerned by reports that Russia has increased its military presence in Crimea,” she said. “We reiterate our view that Russia’s aggressive acts against Ukraine, an independent sovereign nation, are totally unacceptable.”

The Australian government did not say how long visas would be extended, nor did it immediately provide figures on how many Ukrainians might be eligible to extend their stays.

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