Russia and Ukraine at 'Level 4: Do Not Travel' advisories as U.S. sets up phone helpline

Americans were warned by the Department not to travel to Ukraine "due to the increased threats of Russian military action."

Updated: January 23, 2022 - 10:00pm

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The U.S. State Department on Sunday issued updated Level 4 travel advisories for Russia and Ukraine and began promoting a phone helpline for Ukraine-related calls.

The State Department's travel advisory on Russia warns Americans to not travel there "due to ongoing tension along the border with Ukraine, 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 [original emphasis]."

Americans were warned Sunday by the Department to not travel to Ukraine "due to the increased threats of Russian military action and COVID-19. Exercise increased caution in Ukraine due to crime and civil unrest. Some areas have increased risk."  Areas with increased risk include Crimea, which is occupied by Russian forces, and Donetsk and Luhansk, parts of which are controlled by Russia-led forces.

"Level 4: Do Not Travel" is the highest advisory level issued by the State Department. While some Level 4 advisories have been issued due to COVID-19, such as in Australia, Level 4 advisories are traditionally non-virus related. For example, Afghanistan has a Level 4 advisory due to "civil unrest, armed conflict, crime, terrorism, kidnapping," while North Korea is at Level 4 due to "the serious risk of arrest and long-term detention of U.S. nationals."

The top of the State Department's Bureau of Consular Affairs website, travel.state.gov, began featuring a red banner Sunday advising people with Ukraine-related problems to call 1-833-741-2777 in the United States or +1-606-260-4379 if they are abroad.

Similar to what happened during the evacuation from Afghanistan, U.S. citizens in Ukraine are requested to fill out an online form to communicate with the State Department. 

President Joe Biden is reportedly considering deploying thousands of U.S. troops to NATO allies in the region in response to increasing Russian aggression.

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