U.S. embassy in Russia warns of possible attacks in Moscow, St. Petersburg

Americans are instructed to have "evacuation plans that do not rely on U.S. government assistance."
St. Petersburg, 2016

The U.S. embassy in Russia on Sunday issued a security alert warning about "threats of attacks" on public gatherings in major urban areas, specifically including Moscow and St. Petersburg.

American citizens were also told to not rely on the U.S. government for evacuation assistance. 

"According to media sources, there have been threats of attacks against shopping centers, railway and metro stations, and other public gathering places in major urban areas, including Moscow and St. Petersburg as well as in areas of heightened tension along the Russian border with Ukraine," the embassy stated. 

U.S. citizens are instructed to monitor local and international media, avoid crowds and have "evacuation plans that do not rely on U.S. government assistance," in addition to taking other safety precautions.

Russia is already at the highest travel advisory, "Level 4: Do Not Travel," due to the heightened tensions at the border of Ukraine, as well as "the potential for harassment against U.S. citizens, the embassy’s limited ability to assist U.S. citizens in Russia, COVID-19 and related entry restrictions, terrorism, harassment by Russian government security officials, and the arbitrary enforcement of local law," according to the State Department.

While 150,000 Russian troops are currently estimated to be surrounding Ukraine, Russian leader Vladimir Putin further raised tensions in the region on Monday.

He signed a decree recognizing the independence of the occupied Ukrainian territories of the Donetsk People’s Republic and the Lugansk People’s Republic. Putin also ordered "peacekeeping" troops to the breakaway areas in the Dunbas region of eastern Ukraine.