Biden Administration Urges US Citizens To Leave Russia Immediately

The Biden administration on Monday issued an urgent call for U.S. citizens to immediately leave Russia, warning of the possibility of unlawful detentions as the Ukraine invasion approaches its one-year anniversary.

The top-level advisory cautioned against traveling to Russia “due to the unpredictable consequences of the unprovoked full-scale invasion of Ukraine by Russian military forces.” It noted a chance of harassment and singling out U.S. citizens for persecution through arbitrary law enforcement.

In a straightforward manner, the communication said “do not travel to Russia.”

In the case of such actions, the U.S. embassy will have limited options to assist American citizens in Russia.

The warning precedes President Joe BIden’s anticipated visit to Poland to commemorate the one-year anniversary of the invasion.

The message went out at Level 4, the highest level issued by the State Department. The lowest level simply recommends exercising caution. Level 4 warns against all travel.

The anniversary of the Russian invasion of Ukraine is Feb. 24, and there are worries that Moscow is preparing for a major offensive to coincide with that date.

This latest communication is not the first time Washington has issued such a call. U.S. citizens were urged to leave the country immediately after last year’s invasion and received a security warning in September.

The Kremlin on Monday downplayed the message from Washington. Reuters reported that spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the caution has been issued “by the State Department many times in the last period, so this is not a new thing.”

The warnings of detention are not without precedent. U.S. basketball star Brittney Griner was released in a prisoner swap in December after having been sentenced to nine years in a penal colony for possession of cannabis oil.

The U.S. was pressured into releasing notorious arms dealer VIktor Bout, internationally known as the “Merchant of Death,” in exchange for the basketball player.

Former U.S. Marine Paul Whelan is currently in a Russian penal colony serving a 16-year sentence on espionage charges the U.S. government believes are false.

And just last month, Russian prosecutors began a criminal case against a U.S. citizen concerning espionage.

The State Department is telling American citizens what they should already know. Their presence in that part of the world puts them in danger, and Washington has little recourse if they are wrongly detained.