The Marine Corps announced some bad news for Marines seeking to spend off time in a war zone, by banning all travel to three Eastern European countries as of late March.
“Due to the ongoing armed conflict in Ukraine, Marines are prohibited from travel to Ukraine, Belarus, and Moldova,” the Thursday administrative message read.
The message applies to the active duty force, reservists and Marines acting on official orders in addition to those wishing to head to those countries on their own time.
“Effective immediately, all Marines, regardless of parent unit, and all other military personnel attached to Marine units traveling to Europe on official travel (TAD/TDY) or personal leave are required to submit a travel clearance request (TCR) via the Aircraft and Personnel Automated Clearance System,” the MARADMIN reads.
While Russia has occupied Ukrainian territory since 2014, on Feb. 24 Russia launched a large-scale attack seemingly with the hopes of overthrowing the democratically elected Ukrainian government and conquering the entire nation.
The Ukrainian military blunted the initial invasion and have managed to maintain control of much of the country in the month since large-scale fighting commenced.
But as the war has continued, Russia has increased its shelling of major Ukrainian cities, turning hospitals, theatres and apartment complexes into rubble.
To help bolster his nation’s defense Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called on foreigners to join an arm of Ukraine’s Territorial Defense Force.
Marine Corps spokesman Maj. Jim Stenger said the MARADMIN was pushed out simply to reinforce a previous State Department travel advisory.
“I know I check MARADMINs more frequently than State Department travel advisories, so this was an attempt to communicate an important message to our Marines and Sailors directly,” Stenger said in an email.
Stenger did not answer whether the MARADMIN was as a result of Zelenskyy’s call for foreign fighters. Nor did he say how many official trips to the three countries were canceled because of the fighting.
While Marines are not banned from travelling to other nations in Europe, those trips will be subject to extra levels of review, according to the MARADMIN.
Since the Russian buildup on the Ukrainian border began, thousands of service members have been sent to Poland to reinforce the U.S.’s commitment to protecting its NATO allies and possibly deter Russia from extending its fight into the rest of Europe.
This policy applies to civilian personnel attached to Marine units heading to Europe on official business, according to the MARADMIN.