WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Russian authorities may not recognize dual citizens, restrict them from using U.S. consulates in Russia for help with exiting the country, or even force them to enlist in the Russian military, according to the security advisory.
As the U.S. Embassy put it, Americans should depart “while limited commercial travel choices remain.”
Military-age Since Russian forces suffered major territorial setbacks in Ukraine’s eastern Kharkiv region last week, Russians have been fleeing to neighboring countries as Ukraine gains a foothold in former Russian-occupied territory. Russian President Vladimir Putin declared “partial mobilization” of armed reserves last week.
According to the Associated Press, the price of a one-way ticket out of Russia has risen, and seats on flights to destinations like Turkey, Armenia, Serbia, and the United Arab Emirates are all booked up (The European Union had shut its airspace to Russian flights in February).
U.S. citizens have been arrested at demonstrations, and “peaceful assembly and freedom of expression are not guaranteed in Russia,” the U.S. Embassy in Moscow emphasized, urging American citizens in Russia to avoid participating in political or social protests and to refrain from photographing security personnel who do so.
This recommendation comes on the heels of a similar one issued by the State Department in August, which urged American citizens to avoid the nation and depart quickly if they found themselves there.
Last week, Putin made it clear that only current and former members of the Russian military reserve would be affected by his directive for partial mobilization. Mass demonstrations in Russia and broad worry from international officials, including CIA Director Bill Burns, who told CBS Evening News the threat must be “taken very seriously,” followed his promise to deploy nuclear weapons. According to the New York Times, which cited the human-rights monitor OVD-Info, over 1,250 individuals have been imprisoned in protests around Russia opposing Putin’s conscription.
There is resentment over a bill Putin signed three days after proclaiming partial mobilization that may lead to hefty prison terms for Russian servicemen who quit their post or surrender in Ukraine. There was also danger that Putin may declare martial law in the annexed territory, which would block normal legal processes and potentially bar men of military age from escaping.
A further escalation is possible as Russia seeks to secure the occupied territory from Ukrainian forces, as reported by the Russian state news source RIA on Tuesday, which claimed overwhelming support in sham referendums to annex the occupied areas in eastern and southern Ukraine. Putin warned this week that Russia will not hesitate to use force to defend its territory if it is attacked.