In its latest advisory update, US Department of State warned all Americans ‘residing or traveling in Russia’ to ‘depart Russia immediately’.
The US has designated Russia as the highest possible risk country with ‘Do not travel’ danger level.
Slapping Russia with the brand-new ‘risk indicator’ in its new advisory, the US State Department warned that Russian security services have ‘singled out US citizens’ for ‘detention and … harassment’.
The list of reasons US citizens should not even consider going to Russia included Moscow’s ongoing war of aggression in Ukraine, which most of the world called an ‘unprovoked and unjustified invasion,’ as well as ‘arbitrary enforcement of local law,’ COVID-19 restrictions, and ‘terrorism.’
According to new advisory, Americans traveling to Russia might face targeted persecution by local security services.
‘There is the potential throughout Russia of harassment of foreigners, including through regulations targeted specifically against foreigners,’ the US Department of State said, adding that both former and current government officials and private citizens alike might all ‘become victims of harassment, mistreatment, and extortion.’
Russian security services ‘have arrested US citizens on spurious charges, singled out US citizens in Russia for detention … denied them fair and transparent treatment, and have convicted them in secret trials.’ The State Department had ‘determined that at least one US national is wrongfully detained by the Russian government.’
Russia was one of just six countries to be slapped with the new ‘D’ risk indicator, which stands for the ‘risk of wrongful detention by a foreign government.’
The other five nations are China, Iran, North Korea, Venezuela, and Myanmar.
New travel advisory update came in the wake of US President Joe Biden signing an executive order to provide his administration with additional tools to deter ‘hostage-taking and the wrongful detention of US nationals.’
The order authorizes the targeting of people involved in such criminal practices with financial sanctions and visa bans.
‘The president has been willing to make what he himself has said publicly are tough, but important calls when it means bringing home Americans,’ a senior US administration official said.
Under new order, the Biden Administration was also tasked with identifying and recommending ‘options and strategies … to secure the recovery of hostages or the return of wrongfully detained United States nationals.’
Russia and the US are currently engaged in a tussle over the fate of American basketball player Brittney Griner, who was arrested in Russia on drug-related charges in February. The US has previously described her arrest as wrongful detention.
Griner has been in Russian jail since February 17, facing a potential 10-year prison term, after a vape cartridge that contained 0.702 grams of cannabis was found in her luggage.
Last week, US podcaster and UFC analyst Joe Rogan called Griner a ‘political prisoner.’
The Kremlin regime has vehemently denied her arrest was politically motivated.