It was reported Wednesday that the United States State Department expressed concern that Moscow could have been conscripting Americans with dual citizenships with Russia to help it in its war with Ukraine. The State Department warned that the Russian government might refuse to recognize the citizenship of dual nationals, deny them access to consular assistance, prevent them from leaving Russia, and conscript them into military service.
US State Department expressed concern that Moscow could conscript Americans with dual citizenship with Russia to help fight its war against Ukraine. As part of its plan, Russia may deny dual nationals access to US consular assistance, prevent them from leaving#Russia pic.twitter.com/ydYwGsCbBx
— Live News Now (@LiveNewsNow6) September 29, 2022
Specifically, the document stipulated that U.S. citizens should not travel to Russia and that those in Russia should depart as soon as possible to capitalize on the limited commercial travel options. Currently, there is a severe shortage of flights out of Russia, and there are often short-notice flights unavailable. However, there are still routes available by car and bus overland.”
The agency did, however, advise U.S. travelers in Russia or Americans living in Russia who plan to leave at the earliest opportunity to make independent arrangements immediately. It is difficult for the U.S. Embassy to assist U.S. citizens due to severe limitations, and conditions, including transportation options, may become even more limited instantly.
The U.S. State Department has also warned that Russia has no guarantee regarding the right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly. Further, it added that make sure not to take photos of security personnel at political or social demonstrations and avoid participating in these events. Russian officials have arrested Americans who have participated in protests.
Nord Stream Pipeline Leaks
Two Western intelligence officials and one other source familiar with the matter have confirmed that European security officials observed Russian Navy support ships on Monday and Tuesday around Nord Stream pipeline leaks. In addition, it appears that the leaks resulted from underwater explosions. They indicated that it is unclear whether the ships had any connection to the explosions. However, it is one of the many factors that investigators will examine.
An intelligence official also reported that Russian submarines were spotted near those areas last week. In the days following the explosions that caused three separate and simultaneous leaks in the two pipelines on Monday, three U.S. officials said that the country still does not clearly understand what happened. In addition, an official with the Danish military pointed out that Russian ships frequently operate in the area. Yet, the presence of the ships does not necessarily indicate that Russia caused the damage.
The person stated that they were seen every week. In recent years, Russia has increased its activities in the Baltic Sea. It is common for them to test U.S. awareness on the sea and in the air.” Russian officials have drawn the most attention as the only actor deemed capable and motivated to intentionally damage pipelines in the region based on the sightings, which have cast further suspicion on the country.
Danish & Swedish Authorities are Inspecting Explosions
Danish and Swedish authorities are investigating the explosions, but a site inspection has not yet been conducted, and details regarding the cause of the explosions are unclear. A European official stated that the Danish government is currently conducting an assessment and that an investigation could take up to fifteen days because the pressure in the pipes makes it difficult for the investigators to approach the leak site. However, a source knowing the matter has stated that the investigation could begin as early as Sunday.
Earlier this week, the Danish and Swedish prime ministers announced that the leaks would likely result from deliberate actions, not accidental events. However, according to Sweden’s security service, it cannot be excluded that a foreign power may be responsible for the leaks. As part of his tweet on Tuesday evening, U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan also described the leaks as a form of apparent sabotage.
Investigation into Pipeline Leaks
Sources familiar with the investigation indicate that the Danish government is leading the investigation and has set up an exclusion zone of five nautical miles and a no-fly zone of one kilometer. U.S. officials, except for Sullivan, have been more cautious than their European counterparts in assessing the pipeline leaks.
“In my opinion, many of our partners have found it sabotage or believe it to be so. However, I am not able to make a definitive statement,” a senior military official said on Wednesday. “At the pipeline location, we believe that the water depth is between 80 and 100 meters. Apart from that, I have no further information.”
However, a senior U.S. official and U.S. military officials believe that assuming that the European assessment of deliberate sabotage is correct, Russia remains the most likely suspect because no other plausible suspect possesses the necessary capabilities and willingness to carry out the operation. In addition, the Danish military official asserted that other regional players do not have the capabilities or interest to conduct such an operation.
The Russian government has asked for a meeting of the U.N. Security Council to discuss the damaged pipeline this week. However, a senior U.S. official has also called this move suspicious. The official explained that Russia is not organized enough to move so quickly. Therefore, the maneuver appears to be prearranged. Furthermore, Russia would effectively be sabotaging its own pipelines if it deliberately caused the explosions. Russian state-owned corporation Gazprom owns the majority shares in Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2.