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Tipsheet

State Department Issues Urgent Warning to Americans About Russia

Mikhail Klimentyev, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP

The State Department issued an urgent warning to U.S. citizens in Russia, telling them to leave the country immediately amid the ongoing war with Ukraine.

“Do not travel to Russia due to the unpredictable consequences of the unprovoked full-scale invasion of Ukraine by Russian military forces, the potential for harassment and the singling out of U.S. citizens for detention by Russian government security officials, the arbitrary enforcement of local law, limited flights into and out of Russia, the Embassy’s limited ability to assist U.S. citizens in Russia, and the possibility of terrorism,” the warning reads. “U.S. citizens residing or travelling in Russia should depart immediately. Exercise increased caution due to the risk of wrongful detentions.”

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The State Department explains how U.S. citizens have been impacted thus far: 

U.S. citizens, including former and current U.S. government and military personnel and private citizens engaged in business who are visiting or residing in Russia, have been interrogated without cause and threatened by Russian officials, and may become victims of harassment, mistreatment, and extortion.

Russian security services may fail to notify the U.S. Embassy of the detention of a U.S. citizen and unreasonably delay U.S. consular assistance.  Russian security services are increasing the arbitrary enforcement of local laws to target foreign and international organizations they consider “undesirable.”

Russian security services have arrested U.S. citizens on spurious charges, singled out U.S. citizens in Russia for detention and harassment, denied them fair and transparent treatment, and convicted them in secret trials or without presenting credible evidence. Furthermore, Russian authorities arbitrarily enforce local laws against U.S. citizen religious workers and have opened questionable criminal investigations against U.S. citizens engaged in religious activity.  U.S. citizens should avoid travel to Russia to perform work for or volunteer with non-governmental organizations or religious organizations.

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The "Do Not Travel" alert is the highest level issued by the State Department, which is also cautioning dual citizens that Moscow could conscript them to support its invasion of Ukraine.

As the one-year anniversary on Feb. 24 nears, concerns are growing in Ukraine that Russia is mobilizing troops for a “major offensive.”

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov dismissed the latest warning from the State Department, telling reporters: "They have been voiced by the State Department many times in the last period, so this is not a new thing." 

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