I have been contacted by several friends and family from all over the world about the situation in the Ukraine wondering if I am worried about how close we are to the whole situation. I have also have had several discussion with my Polish friends as well has other expats in my area on how everyone feels and is doing about the situation.
I feel safe. We are over 1,800 kilometers way from that area. According to Google Maps it would take 22.5 hours of non-stop driving for us to get there. Am I worried that something my come of this? Yes, but we are far enough away if something should happen.
One of the reasons why I feel as safe as I do is because I have registered our family in the U.S. Department of State’s “Smart Traveler Enrollment Program.“
The Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) is a free service provided by the U.S. Government to U.S. citizens/nationals who are traveling to, or living in, a foreign country. STEP allows you to enter information about your upcoming trip abroad so that the Department of State can better assist you in an emergency. STEP also allows Americans residing abroad to get routine information from the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.
I have been getting emails from the over the past week or so from them of different travel warnings about the Ukraine. Today’s email said this…
The Department of State warns U.S. citizens to defer all non-essential travel to Ukraine, and particularly the Crimean Peninsula, due to the potential for instability following the departure of former President Yanukovych, the establishment of a new government, and the movement of Russian troops in Crimea. Groups have staged protests, set up roadblocks, and occupied government buildings in several cities throughout Ukraine since November 2013. All U.S. citizens in Ukraine, and those considering travel to Ukraine, should evaluate their personal security situation in light of political instability and the possibility of violence. This supersedes the Travel Warning for Ukraine dated February 28, 2014, to provide updated information regarding the return of dependent family members of U.S. government personnel.
On March 6, the Department of State authorized the return of family members of U.S. government personnel to Ukraine. Peace Corps Volunteers departed Ukraine on February 25, 2014, and remain out of the country at this time. U.S. Embassy Kyiv’s Consular Section is open for all public services. The Embassy’s ability to respond to emergencies involving U.S. citizens in other parts of Ukraine is limited.
So long story short, if you are a US citizen/national no matter where in the world you live or travel too, I highly recommend you enroll in this program. The US State Dept. has the STEP program in every country. We were enrolled in it when we lived in The Netherlands or when we are traveling to a country for more than a day or two.