Looking for adventure and planning a trip to Russian-occupied Crimea? The State Department has some advice for you: Don’t go.
According to the department, Americans on the peninsula have been detained for questioning and may be subject to violence both in Crimea and elsewhere in Ukraine. "Groups advocating closer ties to Russia have taken on a more strident anti-American tone, especially in Crimea, where some U.S. citizens have reported being detained and questioned by armed men," the warning says. "U.S. citizens in areas where there are pro-Russian demonstrations should maintain a low profile and avoid large crowds and gatherings."
The warning comes on the heels of Russia’s formal annexation of Crimea and amid reports of Russian troops massing along the Russia-Ukraine border. The State Department is asking Americans to reconsider non-essential travel to Ukraine and to defer any plans to visit Crimea.
Uncle Sam would also like any thrill-seekers hoping to hang out with Russian special forces in Simferopol and Sevastopol to know that they probably won’t be bailed out by American diplomats. With Russian troops in firm control of Crimea, the State Department says it has a limited ability to provide consular services on the peninsula. The travel warning further cautions Americans against travel to eastern Ukraine, specifically advising against visiting the regions of Donetsk, Lugansk, and Kharkiv.
There could, unfortunately, be good reason for avoiding those specific regions at this particular time. NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen told Foreign Policy this week that the military alliance was increasingly concerned that Moscow might also invade eastern Ukraine.
"Our concern is that Russia won’t stop here," Rasmussen said in the interview. "There is a clear risk that Russia will go beyond Crimea and the next goal will be the eastern provinces of Ukraine."
If the State Department get its way, there won’t be Americans there to find out.
Shane Harris is a senior staff writer at Foreign Policy, covering intelligence and cyber security. He is the author of The Watchers: The Rise of America's Surveillance State, which chronicles the creation of a vast national security apparatus and the rise of surveillance in America. The Watchers won the New York Public Library’s Helen Bernstein Book Award for Excellence in Journalism, and the Economist named it one of the best books of 2010. Shane is the winner of the Gerald R. Ford Prize for Distinguished Reporting on National Defense. He has four times been named a finalist for the Livingston Awards for Young Journalists, which honor the best journalists in America under the age of 35. Prior to joining Foreign Policy, he was the senior writer for The Washingtonian and a staff correspondent at National Journal.| Report |
Dan Lamothe is an award-winning military journalist and war correspondent. He has written for Marine Corps Times and the Military Times newspaper chain since 2008, traveling the world and writing extensively about the Afghanistan war both from Washington and the war zone. He also has reported from Norway, Spain, Germany, the Republic of Georgia and while underway with the U.S. Navy. Among his scoops, Lamothe reported exclusively in 2010 that the Marine Corps had recommended that Marine Cpl. Dakota Meyer receive the Medal of Honor. This year, he was part of a team of journalists that exposed senior Marine Corps leaders' questionable involvement in legal cases, and then covering it up. A Pentagon investigation is underway in those cases.| Situation Report |
Gordon Lubold is a national security reporter for Foreign Policy. He is also the author of FP's Situation Report, an e-mailed newsletter that is blasted out to more than 70,000 national security and foreign affairs subscribers each morning that includes the top nat-sec news, breaking news, tidbits, nuggets and what he likes to call "candy." Before arriving at FP, he was a senior advisor at the United States Institute of Peace in Washington, where he wrote on national security and foreign policy. Prior to his arrival at USIP, he was a defense reporter for Politico, where he launched the popular Morning Defense early morning blog and tip-sheet. Prior to that, he was the Pentagon and national security correspondent for the Christian Science Monitor, and before that he was the Pentagon correspondent for the Army Times chain of newspapers. He has covered conflict in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and other countries in South Asia, and has reported on military matters in sub-Saharan Africa, East Asia and Latin America as well as at American military bases across the country. He has spoken frequently on the sometimes-contentious relationship between the military and the media as a guest on numerous panels. He also appears on radio and television, including on CNN, public radio's Diane Rehm and To the Point, and C-SPAN's Washington Journal. He lives in Alexandria with his wife and two children.| Situation Report |