U.S. Sends Warning to American Citizens Living in Russia

On Monday, the United States issued a high-level advisory, urging American citizens to immediately leave Russia and to refrain from traveling to the country due to the ongoing conflict with Ukraine. The advisory highlighted the potential risks of harassment and wrongful detention faced by Americans in Russia.

“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 alert read.

“U.S. citizens residing or travelling in Russia should depart immediately. Exercise increased caution due to the risk of wrongful detentions.”

This warning represents the highest level, Level 4, of alerts issued by the State Department. The alerts range from advising caution to prohibiting all travel.

The issuance of the advisory comes as the conflict between Russia and Ukraine approaches its first anniversary on February 24th and there are growing concerns that Moscow is gathering troops for a potential offensive to coincide with the one-year milestone.

Days after the invasion, the United States issued an urgent call for its citizens to leave Russia, and later in September, issued another security warning. This came as Moscow ordered a recall of reservist forces, with the intention of renewing its attacks against Ukraine.

On Monday, Reuters reported that the Kremlin spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, dismissed the U.S. advisory, stating that it was "not a new thing."

The warning about the risk of wrongful detentions comes after the high-profile prisoner exchange involving the Russian arms dealer, Viktor Bout, and U.S. basketball star, Brittney Griner. Griner was sentenced to nine years in a Russian penal colony for drug possession charges, a trial and sentence that was criticized by the United States. This has brought attention to the situation of former U.S. Marine, Paul Whelan, who is being detained in Moscow on suspicion of espionage.

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