The State Department has changed its travel warning for Ukraine, now saying that “armed militants” are creating violence in the country and that Russian troops have completely occupied Crimea. Although the U.S. State Department warned any “non-essential” travel since March, the new warning serves to show a dire situation on the ground, and explicitly states the militant and pro-Russian force involvement in the region. It even discusses Russian troop movements on the Ukrainian border, stating “The Russian Federation has positioned military forces along the border of eastern Ukraine while armed militants in several eastern Ukrainian cities have staged demonstrations, seized government buildings, and attacked police and pro-Ukrainian counter-demonstrators.”
The State Department issued an updated travel warning for Ukraine on Wednesday, adding language that says Russian troops have occupied Crimea and blaming “armed militants” for violence in the country.
The updated warning Wednesday replaces a similar warning from March. Both urge American citizens to defer “non-essential” travel to Ukraine and defer all travel to sensitive regions, including Crimea. Both also discuss Russian efforts to annex Crimea and note the U.S. does not recognize the annexation.
But Wednesday’s warning goes further in describing the situation on the ground.
“Russian forces have occupied the Crimean Peninsula in support of the Russian Federation’s claim of Crimean annexation and these forces are likely to continue to take further actions in the Crimean Peninsula consistent with its claim,” the warning read. “The Russian Federation has positioned military forces along the border of eastern Ukraine while armed militants in several eastern Ukrainian cities have staged demonstrations, seized government buildings, and attacked police and pro-Ukrainian counter-demonstrators.”
The alert also added detail about dangerous demonstrations, noting that some behind recent attacks “appear” to be Russian forces.
“While the transition to a new government has been largely peaceful in most parts of Ukraine, in several eastern Ukrainian cities armed militants, including personnel who appear to be members of the Russian military, have seized government buildings, and attacked police. There have been staged demonstrations in eastern Ukraine, and attacks on pro-Ukrainian counter-demonstrators — some of these clashes have resulted in injuries and deaths,” the warning said.
The State Department also recommended U.S. citizens who remain in Ukraine avoid crowds and keep a “low profile.”