Heading to Russia right about now could be risky, depending on exactly where you intend to go. If you’re off to visit family and friends up around the Arctic Ocean, you may be OK getting your Russia visa and heading on your way. But if you’re planning to land anywhere near Russia’s North Caucasus region, you may want to re-think your travel plans.
North Caucasus Region
Lokal_Profil [CC BY-SA 2.5], via Wikimedia Commons
The North Caucasus region is the portion of Russia that slopes upward in the direction of the Caucasus Mountains, sometimes described as the border between Europe and Asia. Due to its variety of different nationalities and languages, the region is known for its perpetual turmoil and unrest. These areas include:
- North Ossetia
The BBC reports more than 742 dead and 704 wounded in conflicts in these areas in 2010 alone, and the region is still rife with danger and violence.
The US Department of State has been advising against travel to certain areas of Russia since March 2015. Not surprisingly, those areas include everything within the North Caucasus region. The US government explains its ability to help US citizens in those regions is “extremely limited,” and the areas are fraught with a number of potential hazards.
Kidnapping is not uncommon, with criminal gangs targeting US citizens, other foreigners and even Russia citizens working for the media or other non-governmental entities. Some US citizen who went missing in Chechnya still have not been found.
Terrorism is another threat, with hostage-taking and bombings the typical modus operandi. While the North Caucasus region is a prime area for terrorists, they have also been targeting Mosco and St. Petersburg over recent years. The city of Volgograd has also been hit, with three suicide bombings targeting public transportation back in 2013.
Demonstrations can also turn ugly, even if they start out peaceful and quiet. Your best bet is to steer clear. You’re also advised to stay alert and on the lookout for any anti-American actions, particularly when visiting restaurants or other public places during their busiest times.
Due to the overall tension and turmoil, travel warnings are also in place for Mt. Elbrus, a popular adventure travel destination, and Crimea.
Certain locations in Russia definitely pose a high risk for travel, although you may not need to rule out visiting the country altogether. You can always check the latest travel alerts and warnings at the US Department of State website or contact us with any questions or concerns before you book your travel plans. Swift is always here to help!
Rob Lee is co-founder of Swift Passport and Visa Services. Originally from Michigan, Rob is an avid fisherman and SCUBA diver who enjoys adventure travel.