U.S. includes Ukraine in group of countries where travelers should exercise increased caution
The U.S. State Department has included Ukraine in the second group of countries out of four in terms of level of security for U.S. citizens – the countries in which they should exercise increased caution.
"Exercise increased caution in Ukraine due to crime and civil unrest. Some areas have increased risk," reads a travel advisory posted on the website of the Department of State.
In particular, it is recommended not to visit Crimea and eastern parts of Donetsk and Luhansk regions.
"There is extensive Russian Federation military presence in Crimea as part of Russia's occupation and attempted annexation of this part of Ukraine, which the international community, including the United States and Ukraine, does not recognize. There are continuing abuses against and arbitrary imprisonment of foreigners and the local population by the occupation authorities in Crimea, particularly abuses against individuals who are seen as challenging Russian authority on the peninsula," reads the advisory.
Regarding Donbas, the travel advisory notes that "Russia-led forces continue to control areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts, where the ongoing armed conflict has resulted in over 10,000 deaths."
"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 U.S. government has limited ability to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens traveling in Donetsk or Luhansk since U.S. government employees are restricted from traveling to the eastern parts of the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts and to adjacent regions," reads the document.
In addition, in the event of travel to Ukraine, U.S. citizens are advised to avoid demonstrations and crowds, not to physically resist any robbery attempt, and to monitor local media for breaking events and adjust your plans based on new information.
On the travel advisories website, all countries of the world are divided into four groups. While travelling to these countries, U.S. citizens should exercise normal precautions (first group), exercise increased caution (second group), reconsider travel (third group), or should not travel at all (fourth group).
Russia and Turkey were included in the third group because of terrorism (both countries), harassment (Russia) and arbitrary detention (Turkey). While in Russia, it is recommended not to visit Chechnya and Elbrus, and in Turkey travelers are advised not to go to southeast provinces and to the border with Syria.
The travel advisory for Russia says that U.S. citizens "are often victims of harassment, mistreatment, and extortion by law-enforcement and other officials."
"U.S. consular assistance to detained individuals is often unreasonably delayed by Russian officials. Russia also enforces special restrictions on dual U.S.-Russian nationals. Due to the Russian government-imposed reduction on U.S. diplomatic personnel in Russia, the U.S. government has reduced ability to provide services to U.S. citizens," the document reads.
All other neighbors of Ukraine, including Belarus and Georgia, were included in the first group, and it is not recommended to visit the regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia that are not controlled by the Georgian government. When traveling to Transdniestria it is advised to exercise extreme caution.
The first group also includes Armenia, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Serbia, Albania, and South Korea.
At the same time, the second group includes Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Britain (terrorism), Algeria, Egypt, Tunisia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Israel, Kosovo, China, India, Indonesia, Colombia, Jamaica, Maldives, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, South Africa and many other countries for various reasons.
The third group includes the British Virgin Islands and the Dominican Republic (the consequences of natural disasters), Cuba (attacks on the U.S. Embassy in Havana), Guatemala, Honduras and Venezuela, (crime), Lebanon (crime, terrorism, armed conflict), Pakistan and Sudan terrorism), and a number of other countries.
The fourth group includes Afghanistan, Central African Republic, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Mali, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea), Somalia, Syria, and Yemen.