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US Embassy in Russia urges Americans to leave 'immediately'

Washington Examiner logo Washington Examiner 9/28/2022 Mike Brest
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The U.S. Embassy in Russia is urging Americans or dual nationals to leave the country “immediately” in light of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s military call-up of reserve forces.

Russia “may refuse to acknowledge dual nationals’ U.S. citizenship, deny their access to U.S. consular assistance, prevent their departure from Russia, and conscript dual nationals for military service,” the embassy warned in a release on Tuesday.

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Commercial flight options are “extremely limited at the present,” it added, which coincides with a surge of interest following Putin’s announcement of the 300,000 reservists called up last week. Routes by buses and cars are still available. The embassy has “severe limitations” on its resources to help those who want to leave, so they “should make independent arrangements as soon as possible.”

Following Putin’s speech, in which he once again threatened to use nuclear weapons, protests broke out in Russian cities resulting in a police crackdown and roughly 2,400 arrests, according to OVD-Info, an independent watchdog that monitors police activity in Russia.

The embassy issued a stark warning that the right to assemble peacefully and freedom of expression “are not guaranteed in Russia” and that Americans should “avoid all political or social protests.”

Putin's decision to call up the reservists underscores the severe depletion of manpower the Russian military has faced during the seven months of war.

Russia amassed roughly 160,000-190,000 troops around Ukraine's border ahead of the February invasion, and the Department of Defense most recently shared a Russian casualty toll of roughly 70,000-80,000 on Aug. 8, so up to half of them have already been taken out of the fight. The Pentagon rarely offers insight into the casualty toll in the war and declined to do so as recently as earlier this week.

“It’s definitely a sign [Putin is] struggling, and we know that. He has suffered tens of thousands casualties,” National Security Council coordinator John Kirby said last week. “He has terrible morale, unit cohesion on the battlefield. Command and control has still not been solved. He’s got desertion problems, and he’s forcing the wounded back into the fight. So, clearly, manpower is a problem for him.”

The Wagner Group, a mercenary group that has fought on the Russian side in the war, also sought to increase its numbers by 1,500 from Russian prisons and offered convicted felons a chance to fight for their country, though "many [prisoners] are refusing" to join the war, a senior U.S. defense official told reporters earlier this month.

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Many tens of thousands” of call-up papers have been issued already, though many reservists have not had military experience in “some years” and will likely “deploy to the front line with minimal relevant preparation,” the U.K. Defense Ministry said in its Monday update.

Russia conducted bogus referendums in four major territories in Ukraine in which all of the votes came back overwhelmingly in favor of joining the Russian Federation, despite warnings from the United States that the Biden administration is "prepared to impose additional swift and severe economic costs on Russia along with our allies and partners," press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said last week.

 

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Tags: Russia, News, Defense, War in Ukraine, National Security

Original Author: Mike Brest

Original Location: US Embassy in Russia urges Americans to leave 'immediately'

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