The State Department said on Thursday that the Russian government security officials in Ukraine and Russia “may be singling out U.S. citizens” based on their nationality, and urged Americans who remain in either country to “depart immediately.”
According to a report by Fox News the warning came during a press briefing with State Department spokesman Ned Price.
“We take seriously our responsibility to inform U.S. citizens about developments that may impact their safety and security when they are traveling or residing outside of the United States,” Price said.
“In recent weeks, as you’ve heard, we have seen reports that Russian security officials have singled out and detained U.S. citizens in Ukraine and in Russia itself.”
” We are warning U.S. citizens”
“We have also heard President Putin denigrate equality, free speech, and human rights for all,” Price continued. “For these reasons, we are warning U.S. citizens that Russian government security officials in both Russia and in Ukraine may be singling out U.S. citizens based on their nationality.”
Travel advisories from the department now “reflect that information,” according to Price.
“We reiterate that all U.S. citizens in Russia and Ukraine should depart immediately,” he said.
This came after the State Department updated its travel advisory for Russia earlier in the week warning that “the potential for harassment against U.S. citizens by Russian government security officials” and “the singling out of U.S. citizens in Russia by Russian government security officials including for detention.”
These changes are the ones that were added to the State Department’s previous travel advisory created for Americans in Ukraine.
“The warning from the department comes after Russia’s detainment of WNBA player Brittney Griner, who was arrested in February at a Moscow airport for allegedly possessing vape cartridges containing oils derived from cannabis,” according to Fox News.
“The Phoenix Mercury star was detained and has been held ever since, while first reports of her arrest didn’t come to light until earlier this month – days after Russia began its invasion of Ukraine.”
Price said last week that an official from the U.S. Embassy was able to see Griner recently and said she was “in good condition.” Thus far the Russian government has allowed the U.S. to give consular access to Griner weeks after her arrest was reported.