United States Issues Travel Warning for Eastern Ukraine

The Department of State warned U.S. citizens of the risks of traveling to Ukraine due to ongoing violence and political instability. Violent clashes continue between pro-Russian groups and Ukrainian forces in the eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk. In addition, Russian military forces continue to occupy the Crimean Peninsula and are present on the eastern border of Ukraine. This supersedes the Travel Warning for Ukraine dated May 8 to provide updated information on the security situation in southern and eastern Ukraine.

The Department of State warned U.S. citizens to defer all travel to the eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk. Armed separatist groups continue to control areas in the Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts. These groups have established illegal checkpoints and have threatened, detained, or kidnapped individuals, including U.S. citizens, for hours or days. Violent clashes between separatists and Ukrainian forces in eastern Ukraine have escalated over the past month and have resulted in hundreds of injuries and deaths. Some of these clashes have included the use of armored vehicles, aircraft, and other military weapons. Widespread disorder and looting has been reported in the separatist controlled areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts. Additionally, groups advocating closer ties to Russia have taken on a more strident anti-American tone, especially in eastern Ukraine and Crimea. U.S. citizens who choose to remain in conflict areas should maintain a low profile and avoid large crowds and gatherings.

The Department of State also warned U.S. citizens to defer all travel to the Crimean Peninsula, and exercise caution in the southern city of Odesa. 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 United States and Ukraine do not recognize this claimed annexation. The Russian Federation maintains an extensive military presence in Crimea and along the border of eastern Ukraine.
The situation in Ukraine is unpredictable and could change quickly. U.S. citizens throughout Ukraine should avoid large crowds and be prepared to remain indoors and shelter in place for extended periods of time should clashes occur in their vicinity, said the state department.