Washington, DC–(ENEWSPF)–January 5, 2015. The Department of State warns U.S. citizens of the risks of travel to eastern Ukraine. Despite the signing of a ceasefire agreement in September 2014, violent clashes between Russia-backed separatists and Ukrainian forces continue in parts of the eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk, resulting in thousands of injuries and deaths. In addition, Russian military forces continue to occupy the Crimean Peninsula and are present on the eastern border of Ukraine. This supersedes the Travel Warning for Ukraine dated August 29 to provide updated information on the security situation in southern and eastern Ukraine.
The Department of State warns U.S. citizens to defer all travel to the eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk. Russia-backed separatists continue to control areas in the Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts. The ceasefire agreement signed by Ukrainian, Russian and separatist leaders established a de facto dividing line between Ukrainian government-controlled and separatist-held areas of Ukraine, with numerous checkpoints controlled by government and separatist forces. Individuals, including U.S. citizens, have been threatened, detained or kidnapped for hours or days after being stopped at separatist checkpoints. The Government of Ukraine has stated that foreigners, including U.S. citizens who enter Ukraine through separatist-controlled checkpoints, will not be allowed to pass through government checkpoints.
The Government of Ukraine has been unable to provide some government services. Shortages of water, power and food supplies have also been reported in separatist-controlled areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts, and widespread disorder and looting has been confirmed in these areas.
Russia-backed separatist groups have taken on an increasingly strident anti-American tone. U.S. citizens who choose to enter or remain in conflict areas should maintain a low profile and avoid large crowds and gatherings.
U.S. citizens should exercise caution in the regions of Odesa, Kharkiv, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson. In addition, due to a recent increase in low level terrorism incidents, travelers in the cities of Odesa and Kharkiv should exercise extreme vigilance in public places after dark.
The Department of State also warns U.S. citizens to defer all travel to the Crimean Peninsula, which is unlawfully occupied by Russia. The Russian Federation is likely to take further actions in Crimea in 2015 consistent with their attempted unlawful annexation and occupation of this part of Ukraine. The international community, including the United States and Ukraine, does not recognize this purported annexation. The Russian Federation maintains an extensive military presence in Crimea and along the border of eastern Ukraine. In addition, there are continuing reports of abuses against the local population by de facto authorities in Crimea, particularly against those who are seen as challenging their authority on the peninsula. The Government of Ukraine prevents foreigners, including U.S. citizens, who enter Crimea directly from any country other than Ukraine, from entering mainland Ukraine.
The situation in Ukraine is unpredictable and could change quickly. U.S. citizens throughout Ukraine should avoid large crowds and be prepared to remain indoors should protests or demonstrations escalate. Problems with energy supplies have led to blackouts throughout Ukraine, which will likely continue through the winter.
U.S. Embassy Kyiv’s Consular Section is open for all public services; however, in light of the ongoing unrest, the Embassy has severely restricted the travel of U.S. Government personnel to areas in eastern Ukraine and the Crimean Peninsula, and occasionally limits travel to other adjacent regions. As a result, the Embassy’s ability to provide consular services, including responding to emergencies, to U.S. citizens in eastern Ukraine and Ukraine’s Crimean region is extremely limited.
U.S. citizens living or traveling in Ukraine are strongly encouraged to enroll in the Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive the latest travel updates and to obtain updated information on security within Ukraine. By enrolling, U.S. citizens make it easier for the Embassy to contact them in case of emergency.
For inquiries regarding U.S. citizens in Ukraine related to the current unrest, please call 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or, for callers outside the United States and Canada, on a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444, or email the Department of State at [email protected]. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).
For emergency assistance for U.S. citizens in Ukraine, you may contact the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv at +380-44-521-5566 during regular business hours, or after-hours at +380-44-521-5000. The U.S. Embassy is located at 4 A.I. Sikorsky St. (formerly Tankova) in Kyiv.
For the latest security information, U.S. citizens should regularly monitor the Department of State’s Bureau of Consular Affairs Internet website, where the current Worldwide Caution, Travel Alerts and Travel Warnings, and Country Specific Information can be found. Follow us on Twitter and the Bureau of Consular Affairs page on Facebook as well. Up-to-date information on security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or, for callers outside the United States and Canada, on a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).