US Embassy in Moscow urges Americans to leave Russia

US national (top) and rainbow flags are pictured on the US embassy in Moscow on June 30, 2022. - Moscow officials changed the official address of the US embassy building in the Russian capital to one named after pro-Kremlin separatists in Ukraine on June 22. (Photo by Natalia KOLESNIKOVA / AFP) (Photo by NATALIA KOLESNIKOVA/AFP via Getty Images)

THE US Embassy in Moscow has warned its citizens not to travel to Russia and advised those “residing or travelling” there to “depart Russia immediately while limited commercial travel options remain.”

A security alert on the Embassy’s website, dated Tuesday, noted that dual nationals may be drafted “for military service” following Russia’s “mobilization of its citizens to the armed forces in support of its invasion of Ukraine.”

“Russia may refuse to acknowledge dual nationals’ U.S. citizenship, deny their access to U.S. consular assistance, prevent their departure from Russia, and conscript dual nationals for military service,” it read.

The alert also says “Russian authorities have arrested U.S. citizens who have participated in demonstrations.”

The embassy alert urged US citizens to “avoid all political or social protests and do not photograph security personnel at these events,” noting that “the right to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression are not guaranteed in Russia.”

The alert said that the embassy “has severe limitations on its ability to assist U.S. citizens, and conditions, including transportation options, may suddenly become even more limited.”

“If you wish to depart Russia, you should make independent arrangements as soon as possible,” it said.

Kremlin warns US is edging closer to becoming a party to conflict in Ukraine

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks to the press at the State Department in Washington, DC, on September 27.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks to the press at the State Department in Washington, DC, on September 27. (Saul Loeb/Reuters)

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov has warned that the US is getting increasingly close to “becoming a party to the conflict” in Ukraine.

“More and more, the American side is getting into this conflict, getting closer to becoming a party to the conflict, which is extremely dangerous,” Peskov told reporters on Wednesday.

He was responding to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s comments on Tuesday that Ukrainians would be able to use weapons provided by the US to regain its territory, including in the regions that are expected to be annexed by Russia after multiple referendums.

“Ukraine has the absolute right to defend itself throughout its territory, including to take back the territory that has been illegally seized in one way or another by Russia,” Blinken said.

The referendums — announced at short notice by Russian-backed authorities in four occupied regions of Ukraine — are illegal under international law. They have been widely condemned by Western governments as a sham and were not observed by independent monitors.

More than 50,000 Russians have crossed into Finland via the land border within the last week, according to the country’s border guard, following President Vladimir Putin announcement of the immediate “partial mobilization” of Russian citizens.

The Finnish border guard told CNN that 50,659 Russians entered the country over the past week. Earlier, it tweeted that 7,052 Russians entered the country on Tuesday alone.

The Kremlin has announced it will call up 300,000 reservists to serve in its ongoing war against Ukraine. Since that time, hundreds of thousands have fled to neighboring countries in a desperate bid to avoid military conscription.

Last weekend saw a record number of Russians entering neighboring Finland via its land border since the Kremlin’s announcement, with 16,886 Russians arriving in total over Saturday and Sunday, according to the border guard’s head of international affairs, Matti Pitkaniitty. Of that number, many were “in transit to other countries,” he added.

Finland and Russia share a 1,340-km (830-mile) land border, with several border crossings.

People walk past a billboard displaying a soldier and a Russian flag and reading 'We believe in our army and our victory' in Luhansk, eastern Ukraine, on September 27.
People walk past a billboard displaying a soldier and a Russian flag and reading ‘We believe in our army and our victory’ in Luhansk, eastern Ukraine, on September 27. (AP)

The so-called referendums in four occupied Ukrainian regions will not be the end of Moscow’s “special military operation” in the country, according to the Kremlin.

“The special military operation” — Moscow’s official euphemism for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine — “continues and it will continue,” Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said on Wednesday.

Four occupied regions of Ukraine have held so-called referendums on joining Russia. The referendums are illegal under international law and have been dismissed by Ukraine and Western leaders as a “sham.”

The leaders of two of the four occupied regions in Ukraine are traveling to the Russian capital following the voting, according to local media reports. Peskov was addressing reporters in response to questions about what will happen after the four regions have signed to become part of Russia and if the border troops will be sent to protect the new borders there.

Peskov would not be drawn on when agreements on joining Russia may be signed, telling reporters the Kremlin “will inform in a timely manner.”

Pressed further on whether Russia will consider the goals of the special military operation goals to be achieved when the regions become part of Russia, Peskov said that “not all the territory of the Donetsk People’s Republic has been liberated yet.”

“At the very least, all the territory of the DPR needs to be liberated,” Peskov added.

CNN’s Olga Voitovych in Kyiv and Jo Shelley in London contributed reporting.