US citizens warned not to travel to Russia under any circumstances
Americans specifically advising against visits to Russia’s southern regions like Chechnya and disputed Crimea.
US officials caution against travel due to “harassment by Russian government security officials”.
The United States Department of State has advised US citizens to avoid traveling to Russia under any circumstances, warning that Americans could be kidnapped, arrested, tortured and jailed on trumped-up charges.
A new US travel advisory, issued on Monday, gives Russia the same danger categorization as Afghanistan, Uganda and Syria. As well as specifically advising against visits to Russia’s southern regions like Chechnya and disputed Crimea, US citizens are now being told to avoid Russia altogether.
The statement cites “terrorism” as one reason for US tourists to steer clear of Russia.
In addition, the US officials caution against travel due to “harassment by Russian government security officials” and “arbitrary enforcement of local law.” The officials warn that “spurious charges” have been leveled against Americans, and that religious workers, as well as government personnel, could be at risk.
At the same time, Washington’s new travel advisory cites its limited ability to provide support to US citizens from its embassy in Moscow. In April, the diplomatic mission announced it would reduce its staff numbers by around 75% after it was banned by Russia from employing locals as part of a decree signed by Putin in response to “unfriendly acts,” rules imposed by Washington.
As a result, the US embassy in Russia will no longer “offer routine notarial services, Consular Reports of Birth Abroad, or renewal passport services for the foreseeable future,” its envoys said. In 2018, the US closed its consulate in St Petersburg and, in December last year, shuttered its offices in both the Ural city of Ekaterinburg and the Far East capital of Vladivostok. The decision, which Washington said came as part of a dispute over diplomatic representation, left America with no diplomatic representation in Russia outside of Moscow.