The US Embassy in Moscow released a security message on 7 April recommending that US citizens in Russia exercise increased levels of vigilance and situational awareness. The message warns of the elevated possibility of large-scale demonstrations, personal harassment, and anti-US sentiment. The message further advises that US citizens maintain situational awareness at all times, keep a low profile, and carry a method of communication and proper identification at all times (including a US passport with Russian visa for US citizens).
The message cites “recent events” for the heightened state of awareness for US citizens in Russia. The message comes after the US military conducted strikes against military targets in Syria early on 7 April in response to the use of chemical weapons against Syrian civilians. The Russian government denounced the strikes and has indicated that the Russian military would no longer agree to share information with the US government about air operations over Syria. The Russian government has said the US strikes in Syria further damaged relations between the US and Russia. The US government has indicated that the Russian government has some degree of responsibility for the chemical attack in Syria, given their support of the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad. These events, which have heightened tensions between the Russian and US governments, could result in expressions of anti-US sentiment in Russia, as warned about in the US Embassy message. Such expressions could be directed at US citizens, organizations, corporations, or diplomatic facilities and may involve a range of actions, to include verbal or physical assaults.
The US Embassy in Moscow advises that US citizens:
- Maintain situational awareness at all times;
- Keep a low profile and maintain vigilance when walking in public or using public transportation;
- Carry proper identification at all times while in public, including a US passport with current Russian visa;
- Carry a means of communication at all times with emergency contacts.
Additional advice for US citizens in Russia from the Global Rescue Security Operations team:
- Give crowds and demonstrations a wide berth
- Many demonstrations are publicized in advance; check with local news sources and your consulate
- Be wary of attempts at provocation; avoid engaging in political or inciting discussions
- Seek alternate routes
- Share your itinerary and travel plans with as few people as possible; avoid discussing in public places
- Arrange transportation through local colleagues or via your hotel; public transportation has been a historical target for extremists in Russia
- Avoid overtly patriotic displays; these have the tendency to come across as inflammatory and can potentially agitate a distressed crowd
- Keep your travel documents and identification on you at all times; consider carrying a ‘go-bag’ with you, and be prepared to head toward the airport should the security climate suddenly begin to deteriorate
- Carry a means of communication at all times and have a contact plan with your family friends or colleagues
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