Americans with dual citizenship should leave Russia ‘immediately’ – they could be drafted out, embassy warns

Topline

The US Embassy in Russia on Tuesday urged Americans in the country to leave “immediately” and warned Americans against traveling to Russia in its most serious warning since the start of the war in Ukraine, while that a mass exodus of conscription-eligible Russians fled to avoid Kremlin conscription.

Highlights

The security alert warns that Russia could refuse to recognize dual nationality, deny them access to US consulates in Russia – used for travel assistance in and out of the country – outright prevent their departure and even enlist dual nationals in the Russian army.

The US Embassy has warned that Americans should leave “while there are limited commercial travel options”.

Russians of military age fled to neighbour countries after Russian President Vladimir Putin last week declared a ‘partial mobilization’ of armed reserves after Russian forces suffered major territorial setbacks in the eastern Kharkiv region as Ukraine gained a foothold in the former territory occupied by Russia.

The cost of one-way flights from Russia has since skyrocketed, while flights to some countries including Turkey, Armenia, Serbia and the United Arab Emirates are sold out, the Associated press pointed out (the European Union had close your airspace to Russian flights in February).

The U.S. Embassy in Moscow has also advised Americans in Russia not to attend political or social demonstrations and not to photograph security personnel who attend, noting that U.S. citizens have been arrested during such events. demonstrations and that “peaceful assembly and freedom of expression are not guaranteed in Russia.”

The warning adds to a State Department recommendations for travelers released in August, urging Americans not to travel to the country and to leave immediately if inside.

Key context

Putin announced in a televised address last week that his partial mobilization decree would only apply to current members of Russia’s military reserve and people who previously served in the country’s armed forces. He also threatened to use nuclear weapons, triggering mass protests in Russia and widespread concern from foreign officials, including CIA Director Bill Burns, who said CBS Evening News the threat must be “taken very seriously”. More than 1,250 people have been arrested in protests across Russia against Putin’s conscription, the New York Times reported, citing human rights watchdog OVD-Info. Part of the anger is that Russian forces who desert their posts or travel to Ukraine could face lengthy prison sentences, following a Putin bill sign only three days after declaring a partial mobilization. The move also triggered concerns Putin could declare martial law in the annexed territories, suspending ordinary law and likely preventing military-age men from fleeing.

Tangent

Russian news outlet RIA on Tuesday claimed overwhelming support in sham referendums to annex occupied areas in eastern and southern Ukraine, paving the way for potential further escalation as Russia scrambles to secure these territories against Ukrainian forces. In a speech this week, Putin said nothing was ruled out if “Russia’s territorial integrity was threatened”.

Further reading

US Embassy in Russia tells Americans to leave the country (The hill)

‘Hopeless situation’: Thousands of Russians flee to neighboring countries to avoid Putin’s military plan (Forbes)

Putin calls in 300,000 reserves to fight in Ukraine as he backs referendums in Russian-occupied territories (Forbes)

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