US issues travel warning to Ukraine due to 'Russian threat'

While the travel warning is mostly due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the US reworded the warning to include a request for "increased caution due to crime and civil unrest."

 State flags of Ukraine, European Union and US flutter in central Kyiv, Ukraine December 6, 2021 (photo credit: REUTERS/GLEB GARANICH)
State flags of Ukraine, European Union and US flutter in central Kyiv, Ukraine December 6, 2021
(photo credit: REUTERS/GLEB GARANICH)

The US State Department on Monday said American citizens should reconsider travel to Ukraine amid increased threats from Russia and that it continues to advise against travel to the country due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

While the travel warning is mostly due to the pandemic, the US reworded the warning to include a request for "increased caution due to crime and civil unrest."

Travel warnings specific to the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts and Crimea were also issued due to the Russian occupation of the areas.

Early in December, The United States urged Russia to pull back its troops from the Ukrainian border, warning that a Russian invasion would provoke sanctions that would hit Moscow harder than any imposed until now.

Russia denies aggressive intent in the current crisis and says it is responding to threatening behavior by NATO and Ukraine.

A grenade launcher operator of the Russian armed forces takes part in combat drills last week in the Rostov region of Russia near Ukraine. (credit: SERGEY PIVOVAROV/REUTERS)A grenade launcher operator of the Russian armed forces takes part in combat drills last week in the Rostov region of Russia near Ukraine. (credit: SERGEY PIVOVAROV/REUTERS)

"We don't know whether President Putin has made the decision to invade. We do know that he is putting in place the capacity to do so on short order should he so decide," US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said.

Moscow, which has unnerved the West with a troop buildup near Ukraine, last week unveiled a wish list of security proposals it wants to negotiate, including a promise NATO would give up any military activity in Eastern Europe and Ukraine.

Washington has said some of Russia's proposals are obviously unacceptable, but that the United States will respond sometime this week with more concrete proposals on the format of any talks.