Federal government urges Canadians not to travel to Russia — and to leave if possible
Advisory an escalation from earlier warning to avoid non-essential travel
The federal government is warning Canadians not to travel to Russia, and to leave if they are already there.
The updated travel advisory, posted on the government's website Saturday, is prompted by Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
"Avoid all travel to Russia due to the impacts of the armed conflict with Ukraine, including limited flight options and restrictions on financial transactions. If you are in Russia, you should leave while commercial means are still available," the advisory reads.
Global Affairs Canada said in a statement Sunday that around 1,197 Canadians had used a service registering them with the government as travelling to or present in Russia — but GAC cautioned that registration is voluntary and that number did not present a full picture of the number of citizens in the country.
The advisory posted Saturday notes that, following the Russian invasion of Ukraine in late February, Canada and other countries in North America and Europe have placed sanctions on Russian entities, including restrictions on airspace.
"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," the advisory reads.
The notice also describes the possibility of limited consular resources and the passage Friday of a law in Russia which could result in detention or other penalties for sharing information deemed to be false.
The advisory warns against "discussing the Russian invasion of Ukraine .. sharing or publishing information related to the current events in Ukraine and Russia ... [and] participating in demonstrations and large gatherings." Several major news networks, including CBC, BBC and CNN have temporarily suspended reporting from Russia.
The United States also advised its citizens Saturday not to travel to Russia.
The update Saturday is an escalation from a warning issued Monday, in which the government urged Canadians to avoid non-essential travel.
Canadians have similarly been advised by the government to avoid all travel to Ukraine.
With files from Reuters