The US government is urging all citizens to drive out of the country as tensions over the invasion of Ukraine continue to escalate.
The U.S. embassy and consulates in Russia issued the Level 4 alert on Saturday, citing “the potential for harassment of U.S. citizens by Russian government security officials.” [and] the Embassy’s limited ability to assist US citizens in Russia” is possible. The official website noted that commercial flight options for Americans leaving the country are limited and suggested that they consider “overland routes by car and bus.”
“If you wish to leave Russia, you should make arrangements on your own as soon as possible,” the embassy statement said. “If you are considering staying in Russia, understand that the U.S. Embassy has serious limitations in its ability to assist U.S. citizens, and conditions, including transportation options, may suddenly change. U.S. Citizens who are able to leave Russia for another country and need emergency assistance upon arrival can contact a U.S. embassy or consulate in that country.”
Extra caution was advised for Americans living near Russia’s border with Ukraine or those planning to travel near that area, due to the “dangerous and unpredictable” circumstances.
Flight options from Russia are increasingly limited as airlines continue to suspend operations in the country in response to violence in Ukraine, with some airlines avoiding Russian airspace altogether.
“Given the ongoing armed conflict, U.S. citizens are strongly discouraged from traveling by land from Russia to Ukraine,” the statement said. “Furthermore, there is potential for harassment of foreigners throughout Russia, including through regulations specifically aimed at foreigners. Given the ongoing armed conflict and the potentially significant impact on international travel options, U.S. citizens should leave Russia immediately via the limited trade options still available.”
Due to the harsh economic sanctions imposed on the country for its military actions, the embassy warned that some credit or debit cards could be refused in the country and noted that there were reports of cash shortages. Due to these factors, he urged all citizens choosing to stay in Russia to make other plans to access the money.
Due to Russian travel restrictions and staff departures, the U.S. Embassy explained that its ability to provide emergency services is currently limited, which is especially true for citizens living farther from Russia. location of the embassy in Moscow.
The statement specifically urged U.S. citizens not to travel to two regions: the North Caucasus region, including Chechnya and Mount Elbrus, “due to terrorism, kidnappings, and risk of civil unrest”; and Crimea, the region of southern Ukraine annexed by Russia in 2014, due to “abuses by its occupation authorities”.