As of 7 March 2022, overall operating conditions in Russia continue to deteriorate due to tightening economic sanctions related to Russia’s war in Ukraine. Payment card firms Visa and Mastercard announced the suspension of operations in Russia in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Transactions conducted in Russia with Visa or Mastercard will no longer be supported, and cards issued outside of Russia will no longer work inside the country. Additionally, the state-owned airline Aeroflot announced the temporary suspension of all international passenger and cargo flights beginning at 0000 local time (2100 UTC) on 8 March because of international sanctions on the carrier’s ability to operate. The announcement noted that international passenger flights to neighboring Belarus will continue to operate normally. No date for resumption of operations was included in the announcement.
Also on 6 March, thousands of people were detained for participating in anti-war protests throughout several cities in Russia. In Moscow, an estimated 2,500 people participated in anti-war demonstrations near the city center. Security personnel detained at least 1,700 people. In the northwestern city of St. Petersburg — located near Russia’s northeastern border with Finland — more than 750 people were arrested for participating in unauthorized protests. In the interior city of Yekaterinburg, social media videos showed police officers in anti-riot gear physically assaulting protesters and subsequently detaining them. According to a spokesperson for the Interior Ministry, approximately 3,500 people were arrested in over 50 cities across the country.
UnitedHealthcare Global has raised the threat level for Russia to 4 (High) from 3 (Medium) in view of the ongoing Russian military invasion of Ukraine and the increasingly hostile rhetoric from Russian officials regarding international sanctions on the Russian government and its related entities. The U.S. government maintains a “Level 4: Do Not Travel” advisory for Russia due to the potential for harassment of U.S. citizens by Russian security officials, the possibility of arbitrary detention, and the U.S. Department of State’s limited ability to assist U.S. citizens in Russia. The U.S. Embassy in Moscow previously urged U.S. citizens in Russia to evacuate the country by available commercial means due to the dwindling number of departing flight options out of Russia.