US advises against travel to Ukraine, citing Russia threat

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FILE – A Ukrainian soldier walks at the line of separation from pro-Russian rebels near Popasna, Donetsk region, Ukraine, Tuesday, Dec 7, 2021. When Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula in 2014 and threw its support behind separatists in the country’s east, Kyiv’s underfunded and disorganized armed forces struggled to respond. Now, amid fears that a Russian troop buildup near Ukraine’s border could signal a possible attack, military experts say there would be stronger resistance but that Ukraine would be well short of what it needs to counter Russia’s overwhelming land, sea and air superiority. (AP Photo/Andriy Dubchak, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The State Department advised Americans on Monday to avoid travel to Ukraine because of “increased threats” from Russia amid its military buildup along the country’s border.

In its new travel advisory, the department said Americans should be “aware of reports that Russia is planning for significant military action against Ukraine” and that security could deteriorate in the country.

The State Department regularly issues travel advisories and had one in place for Ukraine already because of COVID-19. But this was unusual because of the direct warning about the massing of Russian troops along the Ukraine border, which has caused soaring tensions between Moscow and Washington in recent days.

American citizens choosing to visit the country despite the warning “should be aware that Russian military action anywhere in Ukraine would severely impact the U.S. Embassy’s ability to provide consular services, including assistance to U.S. citizens in departing Ukraine,” it said.

U.S. intelligence officials say Russia has moved 70,000 troops and is preparing for a possible invasion early next year. Moscow denies it has any plans to attack, as it did in 2014 when it annexed the Crimean Peninsula, but says it wants guarantees that Ukraine will never join NATO.

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