US warns Americans in Ukraine-Russia region of escalating violence

The State Department warned U.S. citizens in Russia to avoid public demonstrations that might flare up because of ongoing tensions in Ukraine.

In an alert issued Friday evening, the department said any U.S. citizens considering travel to the Ukraine-Russia border should be aware of an escalation in tensions.

“Media accounts note there has been a sizable Russian military build-up in those regions and there are reports of an increased presence of Russian neo-Nazi and radical nationalist and extremist groups in those regions,” the alert said. 

ADVERTISEMENT

Americans in the region are encouraged to “maintain a high level of vigilance” since protests could erupt throughout Russia at any time.

“U.S. citizens considering travel to Russia should evaluate their personal security situation in light of current political tensions and the possibility of violence or anti-U.S. actions directed against U.S. citizens or U.S. interests,” the State Department said. 

The warning comes as Ukraine’s autonomous peninsula of Crimea prepares to hold a referendum Sunday to decide whether to secede and join Russia.

Attempts by the United States to resolve the situation on Friday were unsuccessful.

Secretary of State John KerryJohn Forbes KerryButtigieg to fundraise in DC with major Obama, Clinton bundlers next month: report The Hill's 12:30 Report: Inside the Mueller report Democrats need a 'celebrity' candidate — and it's not Biden or Sanders MORE met with his Russian counterpart Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov for six hours in London to discuss the crisis.

Kerry repeated warnings that Russia will face consequences if it moves forward with an annexation of Crimea whose population has an ethnic Russian majority. The U.S. and its partners in the European Union have threatened to impose sanctions against Russia if that happens. 

According to Kerry, Russian President Vladimir Putin won’t make a decision about Ukraine until after the referendum on Sunday.