04/30/2014 04:51 EDT | Updated 06/30/2014 05:59 EDT

Ukraine Crisis: Canadian Election Observers Warned Of Safety Risks

In this photo taken on Tuesday, April 15, 2014, a Ukrainian guards a check-point near Barvinkove, eastern Ukraine. In the first Ukrainian military action against a pro-Russian uprising in the east, government forces repelled an attack Tuesday by about 30 gunmen at an airport, beginning what the president called an "anti-terrorist operation" to try to restore authority over the restive region. (AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka)
OTTAWA - Applicants for the Canadian observer mission to Ukraine's upcoming elections are being warned they face personal security threats.

And The Canadian Press has learned a retired RCMP officer has been recruited as a security consultant for the mission to help manage the potentially volatile environment.

Some 330-plus Canadian volunteers are headed to Ukraine to observe the May 25 presidential elections.

There is increasing instability in eastern Ukraine, where pro-Russian militias are seizing control of cities and a separate team of military monitors from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe is being held hostage.

In an email leaked to The Canadian Press, CUSO International — one of two groups organizing the Canadian mission — is warning applicants that "personal security risks may be a factor."

A spokesman for the Canadian mission says security is a significant concern.

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