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.