The U.S. State Department issued a “Level 4 – Do Not Travel” warning for Americans in Ukraine on Wednesday amid Russia’s continued military buildup near Ukraine’s border and suspicions that Russia may invade Ukraine.
“U.S. citizens are advised of concerning reports of unusual Russian military activity near Ukraine’s borders and in occupied Crimea,” the alert said, citing “abuses by Russian occupation authorities, in the eastern parts of the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts due to armed conflict, and for all of Ukraine due to COVID-19.”
The alert cautioned American citizens to be aware of the security conditions, which can potentially change quickly without warning.
Russia has reportedly amassed more than 90,000 troops on its border with Ukraine and U.S. intelligence has shown Russia is preparing for large and quick invasion into Ukraine if Russian President Vladimir Putin makes the call.
Alleged Russian plans obtained by U.S. intelligence shows that some 100 tactical battalion groups comprising 100,000 Russian troops could invade Ukraine from Crimea, Russia’s border, and Belarus for a prolonged occupation – and more than half the battalions are already in place for the plan.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has vehemently denied that he plans to invade Ukraine, and has lashed out at the U.S. and its allies for “artificially” raising tensions with allegations.
“We are being accused of some kind of unusual military activity on our territory by those who have brought in their armed forces from overseas,” Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said this week, referring to recent U.S. and NATO naval patrols in the Black Sea.
Russia’s recent actions have been compared to actions it took in 2014 when it seized Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula and has since backed Ukraine separatists. Some 14,000 people have been killed in the ongoing conflict.
“We don’t know what President Putin’s intentions are. But we do know what’s happened in the past. We know the playbook of trying to cite some illusory provocation from Ukraine or any other country and using that as an excuse for what Russia plans to do all along,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Saturday.
On Wednesday, President Joe Biden released a statement affirming the United States’ support for Ukraine in remembrance of millions of Ukrainians who starved to death during Holodomor provoked by Joseph Stalin in 1932 and 1933.
“This month, as we commemorate those whose lives were taken, let us also recommit ourselves to the constant work of preventing such tragedies in the future and lifting up those who are suffering under the yoke of tyranny today,” Biden’s statement said.
“The Ukrainian people overcame the horror of the Holodomor, demonstrating their spirit and resilience, and eventually creating a free and democratic society. As we remember the pain and the victims of the Holodomor, the United States also reaffirms our commitment to the people of Ukraine today and our unwavering support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine,” the statement added.