Photo Credit: Flash 90
Former Chief Rabbi of Moscow Pinchas Goldschmidt.

The US Embassy in Moscow issued a stark warning on Wednesday urging American citizens to leave Russia immediately.

“On September 21, the Russian government began a mobilization of its citizens to the armed forces in support of its invasion of Ukraine. Russia may refuse to acknowledge dual nationals’ US citizenship, deny their access to US consular assistance, prevent their departure from Russia, and conscript dual nationals for military service,” the State Department warned in the notice.

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“Commercial flight options are extremely limited at present and are often unavailable on short notice. Overland routes by car and bus are still open.

“If you wish to depart Russia, you should make independent arrangements as soon as possible. The US Embassy has severe limitations on its ability to assist US citizens, and conditions, including transportation options, may suddenly become even more limited,” the notice said.

“US citizens should not travel to Russia and those residing or travelling in Russia should depart Russia immediately while limited commercial travel options remain. . . We remind US citizens that the right to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression are not guaranteed in Russia. Avoid all political or social protests and do not photograph security personnel at these events. Russian authorities have arrested US citizens who have participated in demonstrations.”

The September 21 decree by President Vladimir Putin ordering the mobilization of 300,000 more soldiers to fight in Ukraine has prompted thousands of Russians to leave the country – among them many Jews.

The Israeli government is preparing for a jump in immigration from Russia in the wake of the conscription order.

“We see more requests to immigrate from Russia,” Immigration and Absorption Minister Pnina Tamano-Shata said. “I follow the [Russian Jewish] community and the ministry is doing its best to make sure all those wishing to can arrive safely, despite challenges. My ministry is preparing for a large-scale immigration wave. We’ve had talks with El Al and other airlines to find solutions to allow the Jewish community in Russia to immigrate.”

Following a September 22 inter-ministerial meeting on the issue, Tamano-Shata told Ynet, “We are doing everything in our power to help them reach us here in Israel safely, despite all the challenges that stand in their way at this time. My ministry is preparing for a massive absorption. We’ve had talks with El Al and other airlines in order to find solutions to allow the Jewish community in Russia to immigrate.”

Israel’s national carrier, El Al Airlines, is among the few that have maintained service from the Russian capital.

But Russian authorities have reportedly refused requests from Israel to increase the number of El Al departures from Moscow.

Flights from Moscow are sold out at more than double the usual price, and tickets are also being resold on the black market, with prices as high as NIS 23,000 for a one-way flight to Tel Aviv, according to Ynet.

Hebrew-language reports are noting that many Russian Jews are fleeing the country over land and hoping to catch a flight to the Jewish State from neighboring countries.

Russia’s former Chief Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, who left Russia at the start of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, told Israel’s KAN News public broadcaster on Sunday, “The situation will only get worse.” He urged everyone who “can get out, to get out.”

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.