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Restrictions on US citizens entry into Russia

We are scheduled for a cruise that stops in St Petersburg this August. Does anyone know if the last time that Russia invaded Ukraine, the US or Russia prevented US citizens from traveling to Russia for a period of time? Thanks for the help.

Posted by
264 posts

The State Department will probably keep travelers updated as well as other government agencies. Your cruise line might also keep you aware, hopefully.

I did see a caution somewhere that Americans may not be treated very friendly right now in Russia.

Maybe this will be all over by August?

I went on a cruise in 2019 that included St Petersburg and it was incredible.

Posted by
3083 posts

When Russia occupied Crimea, the Western world talked a lot, slapped on some token sanctions, but functionally looked the other way. Travel restrictions were largely limited to political and economic figures. I cannot find anything about travel restrictions for the common traveler.

This situation appears to be quite different. The current US administration has threatened sanctions that potentially have quite dramatic impacts (see yesterday's NY Times article here; for a non paywall version, google "U.S. Sanctions Aimed at Russia Could Take a Wide Toll" and pick your poison for a site on which to read it). The consequences for travel may be different this go round. I think it is definitely good that you will be traveling with a group!

The current State Department Russia page: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/international-travel/International-Travel-Country-Information-Pages/RussianFederation.html

The State Department offers travel updates for specific countries to those who sign up for the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program and enter their dates of travel. https://step.state.gov/step/

Posted by
3353 posts

The US has issued a level 4 warning against travel to Russia. Not sure what else you need to know if you are an American. Of course no one, even the parties directly involved, knows what the situation will be by summer. Since NATO, and it's European members, also have a dog in this fight, there's an excellent chance that Russian ports would be dropped if tensions remain high.

Just look at past cruises to the middle east, where stops in Israel have been dropped every time tensions rise in that area.

Posted by
6950 posts

We've got reservations the first of June for a Baltic cruise--our second time there.

Who knows what the future holds?

The ship could skip St. Petersburg.

Or, they could spend an extra day in one of the ports we're scheduled to visit.
They could substitute Warnemunde for St. Petersburg.
Or the cruise could be cancelled and a credit issued. I'd be happy to go out of Venice and cruise around to the Greek Islands.

We have flights into/out of London, and we can go anywhere in Europe on budget airlines out of there. We're completely variable.

Posted by
3 posts

i've gotten and gone to Russia before on a tourist visa. You really can't just go stay at a hostel and explore (as much fun as that is) because there are a lot of restrictions and basically you need to be registered at a hotel with a company. There are some ways around this such as staying with family but on the whole its easier to obtain a visa if you just have a trip booked. Honestly though i've done a lot of exploring in many different countries (including many eastern European ones) and Russia is a country I'm glad I did with an agency. The language barrier there can be particularly difficult (even though I speak Polish and can read cyrillic) because many older Russians have never even been exposed to English. In addition people on the street can spot in a hot 30 seconds that you're a tourist and cabs along with people at open air markets and such do try and take advantage of that.

Depending on what city you're going to its also nice to book with an agency because it can help you find your way around, Moscow is HUGE -- one of the biggest cities I've ever been in and I'm from New York and St. Petersburg, though gorgeous can also be difficult to get around. I personally haven't been all the way out to Sochi (where the Olympics are going to be) but it is really out of the way and will be at least an overnight train ride from either of the major capitals. If you do end up going then at least check out the Olympic festivities in Moscow I was there last about a month ago and the country is getting excited! I have a bunch of experience getting visas to Russia as I've been a few times so if you have other questions let me know!

Posted by
436 posts

Ladies and gentlemen, it looks like we're witnessing a historic moment of someone finally putting a time machine to good use (probably to properly celebrate Groundhog's Day)

Posted by
220 posts

I would be highly cautious. Things are kinda tenuous at the moment. Be prepared to change your cruise or even the trip as a whole. :(

Posted by
7705 posts

Ah yes, those “future” Sochi Olympics !!

Oh HOW I have been looking forward to them !

Posted by
13732 posts

Well, for what's its worth. Commercial flights are still going into Ukraine and all you need for that trip is a government COVID insurance policy (about $5) and a PCR test.

Posted by
8850 posts

No level 4 warning from DOS for Ukraine? That's odd...

Actually there is:
https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/traveladvisories/traveladvisories/ukraine-travel-advisory.html

Travel Advisory
February 12, 2022
Ukraine - Level 4: Do Not Travel

Do not travel to Ukraine due to the increased threats of Russian military action and COVID-19; those in Ukraine should depart immediately via commercial or private means. If remaining in Ukraine, exercise increased caution due to crime, civil unrest, and potential combat operations should Russia take military action.

Posted by
8850 posts

Also 'Level 4" Do not travel to Russia as well

https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/traveladvisories/traveladvisories/russia-travel-advisory.html

Do not travel to Russia due to ongoing tension along the border with Ukraine, the potential for harassment against U.S. citizens, the embassy’s limited ability to assist U.S. citizens in Russia, COVID-19 and related entry restrictions, terrorism, harassment by Russian government security officials, and the arbitrary enforcement of local law.

Posted by
8850 posts

Now that the commie dictator has invaded Ukraine, I would hope russia is shut off from any tourism from the civilized world.

Posted by
11448 posts

No flights are going into Ukraine and the airspace is empty. Early word out says missiles have hit the Kyiv airport.

I would not go anywhere near Russia in the near future.

Posted by
8419 posts

joe, Amen to that. I wouldn’t give 1 penny of my money to putin.

Posted by
6021 posts

While I was always fascinated with a trip to St. Petersburg and perhaps Moscow, I put Russia on my "no go" list years ago as Putin started his expansion and intimidation campaigns, this just bolsters that position for years to come.

I do believe, as Rick says, that travel is a way of making for a better world, but there is a point where you just have to say that traveling just reinforces the current corrupt regime, and allows it to flourish. No one can say that a positive interaction with a borsht vendor in St. Petersburg enlightened that Russian to oppose dictatorial actions. I will not waffle on my principles just to cross a place off my bucket list.

There are other places on that "no-go" list, there for a variety of reasons (Political, Environmental, Ethical, Safety, etc.), but this one is a "no-brainer".

Posted by
5669 posts

Really appreciate that Rick has cancelled all tours to Russia. He agrees that we don’t give him any $$$.

there’s no guarantee that international flights will be available before, after or during the summer.

You also have rising tensions with Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania which could lead to those border crossing being shut closed

Increasing sanctions means its very possible you can’t use your foreign bank accounts

To summarize: unless you wanna take a extremely high likelihood of being stranded in a foreign country with no access to your bank accounts and with most border crossings closed I wouldn’t advised it unless you wanna take the long drive to Georgia and pray you have enough luck to access your currency to get a flight out

Posted by
18 posts

I can't imagine visiting Soviet Russia and contributing $$$ to their economy while Putin and his war machine remain in power, they are rightfully a pariah state.

Posted by
436 posts

Ah, David, to visit Soviet Russia you'd need a time machine. I certainly wish i had one.

Posted by
3714 posts

I did visit the USSR in the early 80's when I worked for the US Army in Nuremberg. We went on a German run tour to Moscow and Leningrad. It was a real learning experience.

We were given lots of free time, but obviously followed everywhere we went. We were warned not to take pictures of certain things, like railroads and people lined up to buy food or clothing.

At the time, Moscow was in a state of decay. Nothing was being maintained. Leningrad was in a bit better shape. I still have a small bottle of Russian Pepsi from there and I love the few folk art souvenirs I brought back.

And yes, this was during a time when the black market was in full swing. The prized commodities to barter were jeans, cosmetics and cigarettes. My boyfriend bartered cigarettes for a Soviet flag. Our waiter got that for him. He also got a star belt buckle and one of those tall grey wool hats.

I think he bought the hat at a store we were allowed to go to, but the belt buckle and the flag were not things we were supposed to have when we left. We packed them in such a way that we hoped they would not be noticed when the luggage was inspected. There were no scanners, it was all done by hand. Fortunately, our group had to rush through at the request of our German tour guide so his bag was never checked.

When our Aeroflot plane landed back in Frankfurt, it was parked out on the tarmac and surrounded by heavily armed German soldiers. We were finally put on busses and taken to the terminal.

Only after we were inside for awhile did we learn that the Russians had shot down the Korean Air Lines passenger jet the day before, 1 September 1983. The German soldiers there had a dual purpose: to make sure there were no bad guys on our plane and to protect us tourists in case there were or in case someone might want to harm anyone getting off a Russian plane.

Many years later our son went to St. Petersburg as a Mormon missionary. His descriptions especially of the lack of easily accessible food made it sound like things really hadn't changed much. I suspect that's still the case for anyone except oligarchs and high government officials.

Posted by
13732 posts

Lo, I was in Moscow about 9 years ago, pretty much what you described.

Posted by
120 posts

We have moved our cruise to August of 2024. Hopefully the war will be over well before then and the world returned to normal.

Posted by
5766 posts

You seem awfully optimistic about the timeline for "normal".

I think what we experience today is what now passes for normal, and will be for years. Russia's invasion of Ukraine has changed the way most of the world will view Russia going forward (that is, they'll see it as it truly is, rather than the way we would all like it to be), if not permanently, then at least for the foreseeable future, long beyond 2024.

Casual tourism to Russia will very likely come back some day, but I bet that's going to be a very long time coming. By August of 2024? I sure wouldn't bet on that.

Posted by
13732 posts

Until things are "normal" and you can cruise to St Petersburg why don't you take a virtual tour of prewar Kyiv. There is a thread on the forum with one such tour, and I presume there are others. Good background history for your trip, as Kyiv was the birth place of what became russia.

Posted by
1937 posts

Lo, I was on that same Korean flight the day before that event. Of course that was way back before cell phones and email (and Facebook - ha!) so while family and close friends knew we weren’t on that fateful day’s flight, many other friends didn’t.

scott, David has most likely nailed it - there is/will be a new normal. 2024 seems like a long way off but I am trying to picture what outcome from this war will make traveling in Russia “normal” for quite a while. I don’t mean to sound judgmental - cynically I guess anything that involves money (like tourism) is possible. But I guess it does you no current harm to wait and see.

Posted by
13732 posts

I think I will put off Russia until Ukraine is "normal" again, and I doubt that will be in my lifetime.

Posted by
5766 posts

Things in Russia will be as they are now (or worse) until someone else is ruling over the country. I think casual travel to Russia will remain off the menu until that happens.

When Putin is gone, Russia will have a chance to become "back to normal" again, and maybe travel will resume. But the problems in Russia go beyond this one man. When he is deposed, assassinated or otherwise "retired" it's not like there's a Vice Dictator standing by to take on the country's leadership via a lawful, orderly transition...whatever passes for the "succession plan" in the Kremlin is going to be like a Mafia power struggle (because that's exactly what the government of Russia is, La Cosa Nostra but with nukes and a lot of petro money).

Many of us would love to visit Russia. It's a vast, diverse, fascinating country. Maybe After Putin, the country will rise up to some degree and demand change. But Putin isn't the only powerful mafioso in the country, and it's entirely possible that once Putin is removed from the picture, the next goon who takes over could be even worse. Or maybe we will see a "Moscow Spring" with a happy ending. I wouldn't bet on that, but there ARE hopeful signs and it could happen eventually (though probably not by 2024, I suspect).

If you're looking for some hope, I have a film to recommend...which I posted over in the "Recommended Books & Movies" forum: Navalny.

Posted by
18 posts

"PerilsOfP- Ah, David, to visit Soviet Russia you'd need a time machine. I certainly wish i had one."

Au contraire, a good argument can be made that Soviet Russia is alive and well in the present time. Although it is true that the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, beginning at the end of 1999 the former KGB man Vladimir Putin began to implement his dream of a reconstituted Soviet Russia in pursuit of his dreams of empire, goals which he has been actively pursuing ever since with the aid of his FSB Mafia clique. Did you know that he immediately restored the former national anthem for the USSR in December 2000 in replacement of Russia's existing anthem at that time (aka The Patriotic Song which had been in place as Russia's anthem since 1990)? This should have been an early warning sign.

No time machine needed here I'm afraid, as the saying goes "If it looks like a Duck and quacks like a Duck then it is a Duck". In this case, Russia looks Soviet again under dictator Putin, which behaves like a Soviet with another disastrous invasion, ergo we have Soviet Russia.

Posted by
436 posts

Well, David, i appreciate your logic, to a certain extent, anyway.
As to the anthem, though - much as i like Glinka's song - and I've heard it played many, many times at different athletic events - it's just not the same... Anthem without lyrics is not much of an anthem, I prefer the old Soviet/new Russian one. Even if simply for ease of recognition.

As to the rest of it - the Duck may walk like a Duck, but I'd think that to call it a duck, one should probably have some first-hand experiences with ducks. I'm walking the streets of Moscow now (it's pretty darn hot), and the whole "KGB dictator" "FSB clique" "FSB mafia" take just doesn't quite resonate with me, sorry.

Posted by
18 posts

PerilsofP, I see, perhaps your perspective on "the whole "KGB dictator" "FSB clique" "FSB mafia" take just doesn't quite resonate with me, sorry." would be different if you were to travel south into Ukraine to see first-hand the suffering experienced there at the hands of Soviet Russia. You could even go next door into Poland, Slovakia and Romania where large numbers of women and children have been forced to resettle to gain additional perspective. There should be enough evidence, data, facts, etc. to examine in coming to a logical conclusion as to what has been taking place. Plus there are the earlier events in 2018 Salisbury UK Novichok poisoning, 2014 Ukraine, 2008 Georgia, 1999 Chechnya, 2022 & 2014 drug-cheat Olympics, etc. Somehow I think you won't though, enjoy a lengthy stay and spending your $$ in support of Soviet Russia instead.