In a travel advisory warning on Wednesday, the agency said that Russian officials may single out and detain U.S. citizens in Russia before repeating earlier warnings for citizens not to travel to Russia.
Without providing examples, the advisory said that “Russian security services have arrested U.S. citizens on spurious charges, singled out U.S. citizens in Russia for detention and/or harassment, denied them fair and transparent treatment, and have convicted them in secret trials and/or without presenting credible evidence.”
The alert also said Moscow may “unreasonably delay U.S. consular assistance” to detained Americans, adding that Russian officials “may unreasonably delay U.S. consular assistance to detained U.S. citizens. Russian authorities arbitrarily enforce local laws against U.S. citizen religious workers and open questionable criminal investigations against U.S. citizens engaged in religious activity.”
A week before Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine, WNBA star Brittney Griner, who plays for a Russian basketball team, was arrested and detained on drug charges. Last week, a Russian court extended her detention until May 19, and she reportedly faces as many as 10 years in prison.
Russia has faced significant sanctions over the conflict, including against its banking and gas exports sectors. At the same time, the United States and other NATO members have sent significant amounts of weapons and other aid to Ukraine’s military.
President Joe Biden, meanwhile, met with the parents of Trevor Reed, an American citizen and former Marine who is detained in Russia, according to the White House.
The State Department also warned that “U.S. citizens should note that U.S. credit and debit cards no longer work in Russia, and options to electronically transfer funds from the United States are extremely limited as a result of sanctions imposed on Russian banks. There are reports of cash shortages within Russia.”
“The U.S. Embassy has severe limitations on its ability to assist U.S. citizens, and conditions, including transportation options, may suddenly become even more limited,” it added.
The United States and some European countries also blocked Russian private planes and airliners from entering their airspace over the conflict.
“Limited commercial flight options and overland routes by car and bus are still open and available. If you wish to depart Russia, you should make arrangements on your own as soon as possible,” said the State Department.
The Epoch Times has contacted the Russian embassy in Washington D.C. for comment.