The United States State Department on Sunday issued a security alert advising American citizens to leave Russia by any commercial means possible.
“An increasing number of airlines are cancelling flights into and out of Russia, and numerous countries have closed their airspace to Russian airlines. U.S. citizens should consider departing Russia immediately via commercial options still available,” the State Department said.
The U.S. Embassy in Russia reiterated its reminder to U.S. citizens that the travel advisory level for Russia is at “Level 4: Do Not Travel.”
About a month prior to the invasion, on January 23, the State Department raised its situation in Russia to a Level 4 Travel Advisory, discouraging Americans from travelling to Russia.
“Do not travel to Russia 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,” the advisory read at the time.
The warning remains in effect.
The notice added that the ability for the United States to engage with Americans in need in Russia was “severely limited,” especially outside of the capital city of Moscow.
The advisory to leave the country comes amid the European Union's complete ban on all Russian flights, including commercial airplanes from flying through European Union airspace.
“First, we are shutting down the EU airspace for Russians. We are proposing a prohibition on all Russian-owned, Russian registered or Russian-controlled aircraft,” read the statement from President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen. “These aircraft will no more be able to land in, take off or overfly the territory of the EU. This will apply to any plane owned, chartered or otherwise controlled by a Russian legal or natural person.”
Following the ban, Russia’s primary airline, Aeroflot, announced it had banned all flights from Moscow and St. Petersburg to all European countries. It made the announcement on social media, where it wrote, “Due to the closure of the airspace of a number of European countries, Aeroflot cancels flights and suspends flights from Moscow and St. Petersburg (including flights operated by Rossiya Airlines) to a number of destinations.”