The Canadian travel advisory to Russia was updated on March 5, 2022, in light of the ongoing invasion of Russia into Ukraine. It warned citizens to avoid traveling to Russia and to leave the country if they were already there.
The government of Canada advises citizens to “avoid travel to Russia due to the impacts of the armed conflict with Ukraine, including limited flight options and restrictions on financial transactions.” At the same time, it states that “if you are in Russia, you should leave while commercial means are still available.”
According to Global Affairs Canada, 1,197 nationals made use of the Registration of Canadians Abroad service. This indicated that they were heading to or were already in Russia. However, there may be more Canadians than what was recorded. This is because registration is not mandatory, and as such, it is up to the discretion of the individual to report their location.
Sanctions Against Russia
Furthermore, many countries have already implemented sanctions against Russia. Canada is no exception. Russian civilian aircraft are no longer permitted to enter the airspace of the country. Ships owned by Russians or registered in the country are also not allowed into Canadian ports and internal waters.
Apart from that, the city of Ottawa has placed restrictions on institutions and individuals related to Russia. This includes both banks and businesses.
Perrin Beatty, the president and CEO of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, said that businesses have agreed with the sanctions executed. He says, “and they want to make sure that, that they work closely with government to contribute to that process, and to ensure that that as we design sanctions against Vladimir Putin and against his cronies, that they are inflicting the pain where it needs to be as opposed to creating problems for innocent people.”
Recently, the federal government removed Russia and Belarus from the countries that had “Most-Favoured-Nation” status in Canada. Belarus was included for the support it provides to Russia against Ukraine. Canada is the first country to implement this measure. The withdrawal of this status means that the General Tariff rate, or 35%, will be imposed on goods that come from these countries. Prior to this, the General Tariff was only applicable to imports from North Korea.
Because of this situation, it will be more difficult to leave Russia and conduct financial transactions in the coming days. Citizens are then advised to get out as soon as they can, or not enter the country in the first place.
It states, “these sanctions and the Russian retaliation, may have an important impact on the availability and the provision of essential service. Flight availability is becoming extremely limited.”
Citizens may also have difficulties obtaining consular support. The assistance and services provided by the Embassy of Canada in Moscow are currently limited. But they will do as much as they can to be of help.
Canadian Travel Advisory to Russia: Russian Law Restricting Freedom of Speech
On March 4, 2022, President Vladimir Putin signed a law that effectively restricts freedom of speech on matters related to the on-going invasion. Anyone violating the law will be met with penalties such as being imprisoned for 15 years.
Very few details are outlined in the law in terms of what is considered an offense. But journalists and opposition groups from Russia assume that anything that goes against the statements made by the Russian government could be considered as such.
Currently, Facebook, Twitter, and leading global news outlets have been blocked in Russia. Because of this, individuals will not be able to access many of the sites where they could obtain trustworthy information about the situation.
VKontakte, the Russian social network, along with Instagram and YouTube, can still be accessed. However, many expect that they will also be blocked soon.
In light of this new regulation, the government of Canada advises citizens to avoid discussing the invasion of Russia into Ukraine, sharing information related to the situation, and partaking in protests and large gatherings.
Canadian Travel Advisory to Russia: Citizens Who Choose to Stay
Individuals who plan to stay in Russia despite being advised not to do so should be aware of the following:
- Their stay in the country could extend beyond what was expected
- There may be a lack of supply of essential products and services
- Banking cards may not be used for payment or withdrawals
- They should not depend on assistance from the Canadian government in leaving the country
Apart from this, while in Russia, Canadian citizens should also:
- Conduct a daily review of personal security plans
- Limit public or online discussions about Ukraine and Russia
- Veer away from areas with on-going protests and large gatherings
- Act according to the instructions of local authorities
- Have an ample supply of cash, daily necessities, and medications
- Update themselves on the situation from reliable news sources
- Ensure that travel documents are updated
- Inform family and friends of travel plans
- Report their stay in Russia through the Registration of Canadians Abroad service
As of today, March 7, 2022, the Canadian travel advisory to Russia is still upheld.
Given the advice of the federal government, it would be best for one’s own safety and security to refrain from traveling to Russia. Those who are already in the country should leave as soon as possible, while they still have the opportunity to do so. But while in Russia, they should also be mindful of what they can do to protect themselves.