United States Marines are now officially banned from traveling to Ukraine, Belarus and Moldova, and anyone taking an official or personal trip to Europe must request prior clearance, the Marine Corps said in a message on Thursday.
“Due to the ongoing armed conflict in Ukraine, Marines are prohibited from travel to Ukraine, Belarus, and Moldova. On 8 March 2022, the State Department issued a ‘Do Not Travel’ advisory. Ref (a) also prohibits service members’ travel to these countries for official travel or leave. Civilian personnel are also highly discouraged from travelling to these countries,” the message read.
“Effective immediately, all Marines, regardless of parent unit, and all other military personnel attached to Marine units traveling to Europe on official travel (TAD/TDY) or personal leave are required to submit a travel clearance request (TCR) via the Aircraft and Personnel Automated Clearance System (APACS),” it continued. “Civilian personnel attached to Marine units are also required to do so for official travel, and are highly encouraged to do so for personal travel.”
Maj. Jim Stenger, a Marine Corps spokesman, said the message, known as a MARADMIN, was written to reiterate the State Department’s “Do Not Travel” advisory.
“I know I check MARADMINs more frequently than State Department travel advisories, so this was an attempt to communicate an important message to our Marines and sailors directly,” Stenger said, according to Stars and Stripes.
Earlier this week, the USS Kearsarge Amphibious Ready Group deployed from Norfolk, Virginia, and picked up a number of Marines from the 22 Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) before beginning its journey across the Atlantic.
The Navy provided limited details on the trip, mentioning only that the troops will cross the Atlantic.
Capt. Tom Foster, commander of the Kearsarge, said families and loved ones of the sailors and Marines onboard should “be very happy and proud … they are ready, they are capable.”
The vessel is ready, as well, Foster noted, praising the shipyard’s maintenance and modernization efforts.
“The Kearsarge is as ready as she’s ever been thanks to thousands of people in Hampton Roads who came onboard and made sure we’re ready,” he said.
Also this week, President Joe Biden warned that the U.S. “would respond” if Russia uses chemical weapons in Ukraine. He did not specify if that response would be a military response, though he has long maintained that he would not send U.S. troops into Ukraine.
During a press conference at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, a reporter asked if the U.S. would respond with military force if Russia uses chemical weapons in Ukraine. Biden answered, “We would respond. We would respond if he uses it. The nature of the response would depend on the nature of the use.”
Asked a second time if the U.S. military would respond, Biden answered, “It would trigger a response in kind.”