On Thursday, the State Department cautioned that Russian government security officers in both Russia and Ukraine “might be targeting out U.S. citizens” based on their nationality, and called on all Americans who are still located in either of these countries to leave as soon as possible, Fox News informed.
The agency issued the warning during a press conference with the spokesman of the State Department, Ned Price.
Price stated that the government takes a serious approach in informing American citizens about occurrences that might have an impact to their security while they are outside the US borders, adding that there are recent reports about Russian officials targeting US citizens in Russia, as well as Ukraine.
Price concluded that due to these reasons they want to alert all Americans that they might be singled out by Russian authorities based on their nationality.
According to Price, the department’s amended travel advisories now “reflect that intelligence.”
The State Department revised its travel warning for Russia earlier this week, alerting of potential harassment towards Americans by Russian security officials as well as targeting US citizens in Russia for detaining them.
The department’s travel recommendation for Ukraine has also been updated with similar adjustments.
The announcement comes after WNBA player Brittney Griner was detained by Russian authorities in February at a Moscow airport for reportedly holding vape cartridges that contained cannabis-derived oils. The Phoenix Mercury player was arrested and has been held since, despite the fact that the news of her imprisonment didn’t break until earlier this month, just days after Russia launched its attack on Ukraine.
Price stated last week that a representative from the US Embassy was allowed to meet Griner lately and said that she was “in good shape.” Russian authorities granted the United States to provide consular access to Griner weeks after her imprisonment was publicized.