U.S. Officials Believe Putin's Government May Arrest Americans in Russia

(AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic, File)

The most recent round of sanctions imposed by the Biden administration has led to fears by U.S. officials that Vladimir Putin may retaliate by arresting Americans living in Russia.


This is not far-fetched. In fact, Russia has a habit of arresting and imprisoning Americans on trumped-up charges. Currently, there are two former Marines who are serving time in Russian prisons on dubious charges.

But given that there are thousands of U.S. citizens working for American and multinational companies in Russia, it’s a target-rich environment for the Russian FSB.

NBC News:

“This is what will happen: They’ll get arrested on trumped-up charges,” said Marc Polymeropoulos, a former senior CIA officer who oversaw Russia and Europe operations. “There’s always a concern that Americans doing business in Russia are caught up in the bilateral tensions and can be unjustly imprisoned — sometimes for long periods of time.”

The State Department said concerns about Americans being detained or prevented from leaving Russia are among the reasons the U.S. is currently urging its citizens to consider leaving the country immediately.

It’s not that easy to leave. Russia has just slapped its own sanctions on Western airlines. And with the West sanctioning the Russian carrier Aeroflot, getting out of Russia has become a problem.


But getting out while the going is good may be the best course of action.

The spokesman said that dual U.S.-Russian citizens could also be at risk, and that Russia might refuse to give U.S. consular officials prompt access to detained Americans.

And in a travel warning issued Monday, the State Department cited “the potential for harassment against U.S. citizens by Russian government security officials” in urging Americans to get out “via commercial options still available.”

“Russian security services are increasing the arbitrary enforcement of local laws to target foreign and international organizations they consider ‘undesirable,’” the warning said.

There won’t be much that the State Department or the Biden administration can do if Americans begin to be taken prisoner by Putin’s thugs. Biden’s sanctions quiver is nearly empty and any actions the administration may take to force their return will almost certainly be ignored.

The sad fact is, when one nation acts like a bunch of pirates and takes Americans hostage, the U.S. is constrained by history and tradition from doing the same thing.


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