US Embassy Moscow Now on “Authorized Departure” For Non-Emergency Staff and USG Family Members

 

On February 28, 2022, the State Department also announced the US Embassy Moscow is now under an “authorized departure” order for non-emergency staff and USG family members.

The U.S. Department of State has suspended operations at our Embassy in Minsk, Belarus and authorized the voluntary departure (“authorized departure”) of non-emergency employees and family members at our Embassy in Moscow, Russia. We took these steps due to security and safety issues stemming from the unprovoked and unjustified attack by Russian military forces in Ukraine. The Department of State continually adjusts its posture at embassies and consulates throughout the world in line with its mission, the local security environment, and the health situation. We ultimately have no higher priority than the safety and security of U.S. citizens, and that includes our U.S. government personnel and their dependents serving around the world.

Also on February 28, the State Department issued an updated Level 4-Do Not Travel Advisory for Russia citing the Russian military forces attack in Ukraine, the potential harassment of American citizens, and limited flights out of the country among other things, and urge their departure from Russia while commercial flights are still available.

Do not travel to Russia due to the unprovoked and unjustified attack by Russian military forces in Ukraine, the potential for harassment against U.S. citizens by Russian government security officials, the embassy’s limited ability to assist U.S. citizens in Russia, COVID-19 and related entry restrictions, terrorism, limited flights into and out of Russia, and the arbitrary enforcement of local law.  U.S. citizens should consider departing Russia immediately via commercial options still available.

Due to Russia’s further invasion of Ukraine, an increasing number of airlines are cancelling flights into and out of Russia, and numerous countries have closed their airspace to Russian airlines.  In addition, air space around southern Russia is restricted and a number of airports in the area have closed.  U.S. citizens located in or considering travel to the districts of the Russian Federation immediately bordering Ukraine should be aware that the situation along the border is dangerous and unpredictable. 

Given the ongoing armed conflict, U.S. citizens are strongly advised against traveling by land from Russia to Ukraine.  In addition, there is the potential throughout Russia of harassment towards foreigners, including through regulations targeted specifically against foreigners.  Given the ongoing armed conflict and the potentially significant impact on international travel options, U.S. citizens should consider departing Russia immediately via commercial options still available.

The Advisory notes that the embassy’s ability to provide routine or emergency assistance to Americans is severely limited, as well as the voluntary evacuation of non-emergency personnel and USG family members from the country:

The U.S. government’s ability to provide routine or emergency services to U.S. citizens in Russia is severely limited, particularly in areas far from the U.S. Embassy in Moscow due to Russian government limitations on U.S. staffing and travel, and the ongoing suspensions of operations, including consular services, at U.S. consulates.

On February 28, the Department of State authorized the voluntary departure of eligible family members and non-emergency personnel from U.S. Embassy Moscow.

Also on February 28, @USUN Spokesperson Olivia Dalton issued a statement on the expulsion of 12 Russians reportedly intelligence operatives at the Russian Mission at the United Nations for “engaging in espionage activities that are adverse to our national security:”

The United States has informed the United Nations and the Russian Permanent Mission to the United Nations that we are beginning the process of expelling twelve intelligence operatives from the Russian Mission who have abused their privileges of residency in the United States by engaging in espionage activities that are adverse to our national security. We are taking this action in accordance with the UN Headquarters Agreement. This action has been in development for several months.