The US Embassy published a notice over the weekend saying that Americans could be prevented from leaving Russia and conscripted to fight in the war. It comes after officials warned that Vladimir Putin’s attacks could get “more vicious” as spring approaches.
On Sunday, the US Embassy warned US citizens living in Russia to “depart immediately” as fears mount that they could be harassed and singled out by President Putin’s regime.
It said Americans in the country should “exercise increased caution due to the risk of wrongful detentions.”
John Kirby, spokesperson for the National Security Council said the nation is concerned Putin’s attacks on Ukraine could “get more vicious” as spring approaches.
It comes after President Joe Biden announced that he would be traveling to nearby Poland on February 20, just ahead of the one-year anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022.
In its latest travel advisory, which has remained at the highest level of “do not travel” since October, the US Embassy said there are “unpredictable consequences” of Russia’s invasion.
This, it said, includes “the potential for harassment and the singling out of US citizens for detention by Russian government security officials.”
There is also a possibility that US citizens in Moscow could be forced to fight in the bloody war, which has claimed thousands of lives since it first began almost one year ago.
Noting the partial mobilization when Russia called on 300,000 reservists to fight, the travel advisory said: “In September, the Russian government mobilized citizens to the armed forces in support of its invasion of Ukraine.
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US officials also warned that Americans engaged in religious activities have been subject to “questionable” criminal investigations. It comes as the Russian government recently expanded its ability to detain and arrest people for engaging with foreign entities, discrediting the country or its military and advocating for LGBTQ+ rights.
The US government has also warned that it would be “severely limited” in its ability to help Americans living in Russia due to the ongoing situation and tensions with Moscow.
It may also be difficult for US citizens to leave as the situation worsens, as US credit and debit cards do not work in Russia and sanctions have limited the ability to electronically transfer funds, the embassy said.
Commercial flight operations are also “extremely limited,” officials said, and could be difficult to acquire with short notice so those who have not yet determined a way to leave, may be forced to stay in the country and are advised to lay low.
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