The Biden administration has urged American citizens to leave Russia immediately, citing “unpredictable consequences” which, according to the Daily Wire, could include detentions and detainments.
The State Department issued a level four travel advisory on Monday as war rages on in Ukraine.
“U.S. citizens residing or traveling in Russia should depart immediately,” the advisory reads. “Exercise increased caution due to the risk of wrongful detentions.”
“The potential for harassment and the singling out of U.S. citizens for detention by Russian government security officials, the arbitrary enforcement of local law, limited flights into and out of Russia, the Embassy’s limited ability to assist U.S. citizens in Russia, and the possibility of terrorism.”
The most well-known example of a “wrongful detention” likely stemming from geopolitical motivations is that of WNBA player Brittney Griner, who was recently swapped by Russia in exchange for the “Merchant of Death,” Viktor Bout.
Griner received a nine-year prison sentence after being detained for carrying a vape cartridge through security at a Russian airport and was sent to a penal colony until the United States’ costly arms dealer swap.
U.S. Marine veteran Paul Whelan, who was imprisoned on ‘baseless’ espionage charges per the Associated Press, was left in Russia, despite being locked up longer than Griner.
The Daily Wire reports that Russia’s government has shrugged off the State Department’s newest travel advisory warning Americans of wrongful detainments.
“This is not a new thing,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.
Whelan’s sister, Elizabeth, previously voiced support for a level four travel advisory during an interview recorded when a first advisory was issued during the beginning of the war in Ukraine.
"I hope that the US keeps this travel advisory at level four, at least until Paul and Trevor come home."
Elizabeth Whelan, sister of Paul Whelan, American unjustly detained in Russia talks about the current 'Level 4 – Do Not Travel' rating in the US travel advisory for Russia pic.twitter.com/CA8SNsNxpk
— POD HOSTAGE DIPLOMACY (@PodHostageDiplo) September 28, 2021