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Saturday, August 30, 2014
STATE DEPARTMENT ISSUES TRAVEL WARNING TO UKRAINE: SITUATION WORSENS
The Department of State warns U.S. citizens of the risks of travel to eastern Ukraine due to ongoing violent clashes between Russia-backed separatists and Ukrainian forces in the eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk.
AUGUST 29, 2014
In addition, Russian military forces continue to occupy the Crimean Peninsula and are present on the eastern border of Ukraine.This supersedes the Travel Warning for Ukraine dated August 1 to provide updated information on the security situation in southern and eastern Ukraine.
The Department of State warns U.S. citizens to defer all travel to the eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk. Russia-backed separatists continue to control areas in the Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts. These groups have established illegal checkpoints and have threatened, detained, or kidnapped individuals, including U.S. citizens, for hours or days. The Ukrainian armed forces have launched an operation to reclaim these areas. Violent clashes between the Russia-backed separatists and Ukrainian forces have escalated over the past month and have resulted in hundreds of injuries and deaths. Some of these clashes have included the use of armored vehicles, aircraft, and other military weapons including surface to air missiles, the use of which was responsible for the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 on July 17. Widespread disorder and looting has been confirmed in areas controlled by Russia-backed separatists in Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts. These Russian-supported groups have taken on a more strident anti-American tone, especially in eastern Ukraine and Crimea. U.S. citizens who choose to remain in conflict areas should maintain a low profile and avoid large crowds and gatherings.
The Department of State also warns U.S. citizens to defer all travel to the Crimean Peninsula, and to exercise caution in the regions of Odesa, Kharkhiv, Zaporizhia and Kherson. Russian forces have occupied the Crimean Peninsula in support of the Russian Federation's attempted annexation of Crimea and these forces are likely to continue to take further actions in the Crimean Peninsula consistent with Russia's continuing occupation of this part of Ukraine. The international community, including the United States and Ukraine, does not recognize this purported annexation. The Russian Federation maintains an extensive military presence in Crimea and along the border of eastern Ukraine. In addition, there are continuing reports of abuses against the local population by de facto authorities in Crimea, particularly against those who are seen as challenging the current status quo on the peninsula
The situation in Ukraine is unpredictable and could change quickly. U.S. citizens throughout Ukraine should avoid large crowds and be prepared to remain indoors and shelter in place for extended periods of time should clashes occur in their vicinity.
Peace Corps Volunteers departed Ukraine on February 25, and remain out of the country at this time. U.S. Embassy Kyiv's Consular Section is open for all public services; however, in light of the ongoing unrest, the Embassy has severely restricted the travel of U.S. Government personnel to areas in eastern Ukraine and the Crimean Peninsula, and occasionally limits travel to other adjacent regions. As a result, the Embassy's ability to respond to emergencies involving U.S. citizens in eastern Ukraine and Ukraine's Crimean region is extremely limited.
Ground transportation may be disrupted throughout the country. Drivers may encounter roadblocks that restrict access on certain roads. Following the downing of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 in eastern Ukraine, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued a Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) to prohibit all U.S. flight operations within Dnipropetrovsk Flight Information Regions. This expanded the FAA’s previous NOTAM restricting U.S. flight operations within the
U.S. citizens living or traveling in Ukraine are strongly encouraged to enroll in the Department of State's Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive the latest travel updates and to obtain updated information on security within Ukraine. By enrolling, U.S. citizens make it easier for the Embassy to contact them in case of emergency.