US Government Issues Level 4 Travel Advisory for Russia
The U.S. government issued a Level 4 travel advisory on Monday, warning American citizens to leave Russia immediately and to cease all travel to the country due to the ongoing war between Russia and neighboring Ukraine. The State Department cited the risk of potential harassment and wrongful detention of American citizens by Russian security services, and said that the ability to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens in Russia is severely limited.
In addition, the embassy warned that Russia may refuse to acknowledge dual U.S.-Russian citizenships, and that those dual citizens are at risk of being conscripted into the Russian armed forces. People with both American and Russian citizenship may also be subject to mobilization and prevented from leaving Russia. The State Department has also recently warned U.S. diplomats against trying to conduct subversive work and recruit “agents of influence” to sow discord in Russian society and incite anti-state speeches.
Russia has since dismissed the warnings, with Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov saying that “this is not a new thing” and that any dual U.S.-Russian citizens “are primarily Russian citizens, regardless of what citizenship they have.”
The State Department has issued its highest warning level, Level 4, and recommends that travelers exercise caution or refrain from traveling altogether. It follows the high-profile prisoner swap of Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout for U.S. basketball star Brittney Griner, who had been sentenced to nine years in a Russian penal colony on drug possession charges. It also comes as Russia is widely thought to be planning a major new offensive against Ukraine, and amid concerns that Moscow is amassing troops for an offensive that could coincide with the one-year mark of the war.
Furthermore, the embassy cautioned that because of sanctions, U.S. credit and debit cards no longer work in Russia, and there are reports of cash shortages within the country.
The State Department has “do not travel” advisories for 19 other countries, including Afghanistan, Belarus, Burkina Faso, Central African Republic, Haiti, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Mali, Myanmar, North Korea, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria, Ukraine, Venezuela, and Yemen.
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