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Tipsheet

Biden Administration Issues New Security Warning About Russia

AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko

As questions grow about U.S. national security here at home, the Biden administration is warning Americans of deteriorating conditions in Russia with a new travel advisory issued Sunday in which the State Department did not mince words about the dangers facing U.S. citizens at the hand of Putin's government. 

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Citing "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 U.S. Mission Russia warned Americans to cancel any plans to travel to the country. 

What's more, the State Department warning says that U.S. citizens already residing or traveling in Russia "should depart immediately" and "exercise increased caution due to the risk of wrongful intentions." If Americans encounter any issues in Russia, the Biden administration warns it's unlikely to be able to do anything, especially for Americans who aren't near the main U.S. outpost in Moscow:

The U.S. government’s ability to provide routine or emergency services to U.S. citizens in Russia is severely limited, particularly in areas far from the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, due to Russian government limitations on travel for embassy personnel and staffing, and the ongoing suspension of operations, including consular services, at U.S. consulates.

The U.S. Mission Russia also noted that its diplomatic staff have "severe limitations" on their ability to assist U.S. citizens and added a warning that "transportation options may suddenly become even more limited" for Americans trying to leave Russia. In addition, the State Department's latest warning says, "Russia may refuse to acknowledge dual nationals' U.S. citizenship, deny their access to U.S. consular assistance, subject them to mobilization, prevent their departure from Russia, and/or conscript them." 

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Oh, so the Biden administration is worried that Americans in Russia might be forced to fight in the war. 

Americans seeking to leave Russia are likely to encounter even more issues because "U.S. credit and debit cards no longer work in Russia, and options to electronically transfer funds from the United States are extremely limited" as a result of American sanctions on Russian financial institutions. 

Any U.S. citizens who choose to visit Russia anyway are told to make contingency plans that do "not rely on U.S. government assistance" and warned that U.S. citizens "have been interrogated without cause and threatened by Russian officials, and may become victims of harassment, mistreatment, and extortion" from Russian police and government agents. 

The latest warning comes as President Joe Biden prepares to visit Poland ahead of the one-year anniversary of Russia's invasion of Ukraine and as his administration warns that hostilities could grow more "vicious" this spring. 

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