US Advises Citizens to Avoid Travel to Ukraine Due to 'Increased Threats From Russia'

CC0 / / Cityscape view of Kiev, Ukraine
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WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - The United Stated in its latest travel advisory for Ukraine encourages Americans to avoid traveling there over alleged increased threats from Russia, the State Department said in a release on Monday.
"The Department of State continues to advise U.S. citizens not to travel to Ukraine due to COVID-19 and to reconsider travel due to increased threats from Russia. Exercise increased caution due to crime and civil unrest. Some areas have increased risks," the release said.
Americans should know about reports that Moscow is preparing for significant military action against Ukraine, according to the release.
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"U.S. citizens are also reminded the security conditions, particularly along Ukraine’s borders, in Russia-occupied Crimea, and in Russia-controlled eastern Ukraine, are unpredictable and can deteriorate with little notice," the release said. "U.S. citizens choosing to travel to Ukraine should be aware that Russian military action anywhere in Ukraine would severely impact the U.S. Embassy’s ability to provide consular services, including assistance to U.S. citizens in departing Ukraine."
The State Department went on to say that Russia "occupies and has attempted to annex Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula," and has a large military presence there.
"Occupation authorities continue to abuse and arbitrarily imprison foreigners and the local population, particularly individuals who are seen as opposing Russia’s occupation of the peninsula," the release stated. "The U.S. government prohibits its employees from traveling to Crimea and is unable to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens in Crimea."
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Moreover, the State Department claimed that Russia-led forces control areas of Donetsk and Luhansk.
"Individuals, including U.S. citizens, have been threatened, detained, or kidnapped for hours or days after being stopped at checkpoints controlled by Russia-led forces," the release said. "The U.S. government restricts U.S. government employees from traveling to the eastern parts of the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts and adjacent regions, which limits the ability to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens in these regions."
"Crime targeting foreigners and property is common. Demonstrations, which have turned violent at times, regularly occur throughout Ukraine, including in Kyiv," it added. "Politically targeted assassinations and bombings have also occurred. There are reports of violent attacks on minority groups and police by radical groups."
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Tensions around Ukraine have been aggravated over the past several weeks over West's claims of an alleged Russian troop buildup near the Ukrainian border, Moscow has repeatedly denied the accusations, pointing to NATO's military activity near Russian borders, which it deems a threat to its national security. Russia says it has the right to move forces within its own territory.
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