A sign pointing at the United States Department of State is pictured in Washington, DC on August 6, 2021.On Wednesday, the US State Department rolled out perhaps its most detailed travel advisory for American citizens, and it was directed at those who still plan on going to Ukraine despite the ongoing crisis. The State Department recommended that such people take DNA tests and even draft their wills.After Washington advised Americans against travelling to Ukraine amid the ongoing crisis in the East European country, some people apparently refused to refrain from the trip and still wanted to go. For these citizens, the State Department has rolled out an elaborate guideline on what to do: from sharing important documents to taking DNA tests, people were also urged to discuss their possible funeral arrangements and issues related to child care and custody.Such specific travel advisories have also been rolled out for countries like Syria, North Korea, and Iran. If a US citizen chooses to ignore a level 4 travel advisory – “do not travel” – they are encouraged to draft their wills, designate appropriate insurance beneficiaries, and come up with a plan regarding child care, custody, property issues, etc.Details like advice to pre-plan a funeral or leave DNA samples, while being rather practical when it comes to visiting conflict zones, can also have the goal to simply frighten American citizens with an exaggerated image of the “evil Russian bear”, Michael Springmann, a former American diplomat and political analyst, believes.
"I think it tends to create how awful the Russians are. They're frightening American citizens with death and destruction, and they better be prepared for dealing with the evil Russian bear", he says. "It's a calculated and widespread effort to promote the neo-Nazi government of the Ukraine, and by showing that the Russians are terrible people. They just have such nuances because the Americans are dumb enough to believe it. They're badly informed with this full court press on information coming out of Ukraine and Russia".
The advisory, along with other “propaganda statements” like those about the alleged “ghost pilot of Kiev that has shot down half the Russian Air Force”, is part of a carefully coordinated effort to promote Russophobia, Springmann continues.
"So it's basically propaganda. It's 'hate Russia'. Keep the Russophobia going. And when you ask for reasons for this, when you ask for background, proof, it just doesn't come up", he says.
The effort is ultimately aimed at stripping Russia “of any kind of support from anywhere in the world”, Springmann notes, and to promote the idea that “the Russians can’t be trusted, that they’re dangerous, that they’re warmongers”. In isolating Russia from the rest of the world, the US will seek to strip it “of money, of political influence, of knowledge, of anything else that permeates a civilised society”.
"They want to divorce Russia from any contact with the rest of the world, just as they've done with Iran and as they're trying to do with China and other places – Venezuela, Cuba, Yemen", he continues. "The Americans don't want their enemies to know what the real world is like. They want them cut off from it".
However, there might also be another goal – to dissuade Americans from joining the “International Legion of Territorial Defence” and head to Ukraine in order to fight the Russian forces there… or it might also be the complete opposite.According to Springmann, the fact that it is illegal to fight in someone else’s war has never stopped Americans from recruiting people for wars in the Middle East and Asia.
"There were 52 recruiting offices, including one in Washington, DC, and the British say it’s a court martial offence if a British soldier joins the fight in the Ukraine. But that certainly didn't stop them in their attacks on Syria and Libya and in Iraq and Afghanistan. So I don't know that it's designed to sway the Americans from going, I think they're secretly encouraging them to go", he notes.
According to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, his country expects some 16,000 foreigners headed to Ukraine in order to help fight the Russian forces. On Wednesday, Germany denied claims of 1,000 of its citizens fighting in Ukraine, saying that it is only aware of “less than 10 German right-wing extremists” headed there.Concerns about foreign mercenaries operating in Ukraine were voiced by Russian President Vladimir Putin when he spoke to German Chancellor Olaf Scholz. The Kremlin drew the German chancellor’s attention to “an increase in the appearance of mercenaries [in Ukraine] from third countries, including from Albania and Croatia, Kosovo militants and even jihadists with experience of military operations in Syria”.In addition to that, Zelensky on Thursday signed a law allowing civilians to use weapons against Russian troops during martial law. Russia launched a military operation in Ukraine on 24 February, aiming to “demilitarise and de-Nazify” the country. Moscow asserted that it has no plans to occupy Ukraine, saying Russian forces are targeting military infrastructure only and pose no threat to civilians.