The U.S. State Department on Saturday issued a Level 4 "Do Not Travel" advisory against travel to Russia and told American citizens already there to leave as soon as they can.
"Do not travel to Russia due to the unprovoked and unjustified attack by Russian military forces in Ukraine, the potential for harassment against U.S. citizens by Russian government security officials, the Embassy's limited ability to assist U.S. citizens in Russia, COVID-19 and related entry restrictions, terrorism, limited flights into and out of Russia, and the arbitrary enforcement of local law," the State Dept. said in the advisory. "U.S. citizens should depart Russia immediately."
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and prevention last month had already issued a Level 4 Advisory for travel to Russia, but that was due to concern of high transmission rates of the COVID-19 virus.
This advisory by the State Dept. is clearly more dire.
The department is warning U.S. citizens residing or traveling in Russia to depart immediately as limited commercial flight options are still available. U.S. President Joe Biden earlier this week joined nearly 40 other countries across the world by banning Russia from its airspace, making it extraordinarily difficult to take a flight out of Russia back to the U.S.
"Overland routes by car and bus are also still open. If you wish to depart Russia, you should make arrangements on your own as soon as possible," the State Dept. warned. "If you plan to stay in Russia, understand the U.S. Embassy has severe limitations on its ability to assist U.S. citizens, and conditions, including transportation options, may change suddenly. U.S. citizens who are able to depart Russia for another country and are in need of emergency assistance upon arrival may contact a U.S. embassy or consulate in that country."
Another potential major roadblock to travel - U.S.- and European Union-led sanctions against Russia have begun to cripple the country's economy, leading to cash shortages within Russia. Americans might not be able to use their credit cards within Russia or to withdraw money from an ATM for cash.
"U.S. citizens should make an alternative plan for access to money and finances if remaining in Russia," the State Dept. said.
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