Russia: USA calls on citizens to leave the country – what the Foreign Office says

risk of arbitrary arrest
After the arrest of journalists: the United States is calling on citizens to leave Russia – that’s what the Federal Foreign Office in Berlin says

Red Square and Kremlin in Moscow: The US government calls on its citizens to leave Russia immediately.

© Alexander Zemlianichenko/AP/DPA

After the arrest of a US journalist, the USA is calling on its citizens to leave Russia “immediately”. The Federal Foreign Office has also updated its travel and safety information.

The United States government once again unequivocally calls on US citizens to leave Russia immediately. The presence of Americans in Russia is deeply concerning, said John Kirby, Communications Director for the National Security Council at the White House.

The background is the apparently arbitrary arrest of the “Wall Street Journal” journalist Evan Gershkovich by Russian authorities (the star reported). They accuse him of spying for the United States. If convicted, he faces up to 20 years in prison. The newspaper and the US government rejected the allegations. “We also condemn the Russian government’s continued persecution and repression of journalists and freedom of the press,” the White House said in a statement. US President Joe Biden addressed the Kremlin directly: “Release him!”

Leave Russia “immediately”.

“Do not travel to Russia because of the unpredictable consequences of the attack on Ukraine,” the US State Department has warned Americans. There is a “risk of wrongful arrest”. In addition, the ability of the US Embassy to help citizens is severely limited. Anyone who lives or travels in Russia should “leave immediately”.

The Federal Foreign Office (AA) in Berlin also keeps an eye on the situation in Russia for German citizens. The travel and safety advice for the country was last updated on Friday. The clear notice applies: “Travel to the Russian Federation is not recommended.” There is “the danger of arbitrary arrests.”

“If you are currently in the Russian Federation, consider whether your presence is mandatory. If not, consider leaving,” the AA recommends. There is also an official travel warning for the regions of Russia bordering Ukraine. The Foreign Office also speaks of limited consular protection for German nationals in Russia.

Travelers face major hurdles in Russia

According to the AA, anyone who absolutely wants or has to travel to Russia has to be prepared for numerous difficulties. It starts with entry. Trains and ferries do not run and there are no longer any direct flights from Germany. Many Russian airports are closed.

There are further hurdles lurking in the country, which are also due to the sanctions against Russia: German credit cards do not work, it is also not possible to withdraw cash from ATMs, the same applies to transfers from the EU.

Added to this is the tense security situation in parts of Russia. The authorities have declared a state of emergency in several regions on the border with Ukraine. According to the AA, there is also an ever-present risk of terrorism, but also the danger of becoming a victim of everyday crime: pickpocketing, fraud, robberies.

It is also clear that travelers in Russia should refrain from commenting on Putin’s policies: “Both private and business critical statements about current political developments in all social media can be associated with unpredictable personal risks. Extreme restraint is advised.”

Sources: U.S. State Department, Ministry of Foreign AffairDPA news agency

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