ASIA China (Security threat level – 3): On 23 November...
Canada (Security threat level – 2): Over the weekend of 19-20 February 2022, police officers in the capital Ottawa forcibly removed “Freedom Convoy” demonstrators who had been occupying streets near Parliament Hill in the city center for the previous three weeks. The convoy of trucks initially arrived in the capital on 28 January and had since remained on the streets; participants are demanding the repeal of mandatory vaccinations and other coronavirus-related health measures for cross-border truck operators. Police officers used pepper spray and stun grenades to quell resistance while removing the protesters and their vehicles from the city center. Despite a few scuffles between the officers and the protesters, there were no reports of significant injuries or deaths. Authorities arrested 191 people and towed away nearly 100 vehicles to clear the blockade. The local police department has advised commercial establishments, which had been closed due to the blockade, to resume operations on 21 February.
Nepal (Security threat level – 3): On 20 February 2022, police officers fired tear gas and water cannons to disperse stone-throwing protesters during a demonstration in front of the Parliament building in the New Baneshwor area of Kathmandu, the capital. The clashes occurred after hundreds of demonstrators — mostly supporters of the two communist parties of the ruling coalition — took to the streets as the government tabled the ratification in Parliament of a controversial grant agreement with the U.S.-funded Millennium Corporation Challenge (MCC). Some protesters were reportedly injured in the clashes. A similar demonstration occurred near Parliament on 16 February and additional protests are likely during the upcoming week, as the parliamentary vote to ratify the grant agreement is expected to occur before the deadline ends on 28 February.
Australia (Security threat level – 2): On 21 February 2022, Australian authorities reopened the country’s border for incoming international travelers — the border had been closed since March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Fully vaccinated travelers may enter the country without applying for a travel exemption, but must still apply for a visa and submit a negative COVID-19 PCR or NAAT test taken within three days before travel. Unvaccinated travelers, however, must still apply for an exemption. Additional details regarding accepted vaccines and other entry requirements are available here. Further information on state-specific quarantine requirements is available here.
Ukraine (Security threat level – 4): As of 21 February 2022, the security situation in southeastern Ukraine continues to deteriorate amid fears of an imminent Russian invasion of the country. Incidents of shelling along the line of contact in the southeastern Donbass region, which comprises the separatist areas of Donetsk and Luhansk, have notably intensified since 17 February. Russia-backed separatist leaders of Donetsk and Luhansk continue to accuse the Ukrainian military of shelling rebel positions in the Donbass region and carrying out or attempting to carry out terrorist attacks. The leaders of the two separatist governments have also requested that Russian President Vladimir Putin recognize their breakaway regions and provide Russian military aid. In another new escalation of rhetoric, the Russian military claimed on 21 February that it destroyed two Ukrainian armored vehicles and killed five alleged Ukrainian saboteurs attempting to cross into the Rostov region of Russia.
Over the weekend of 19-20 February, the separatist leaders of Donetsk and Luhansk declared a general mobilization in response to alleged threats of aggression from the Ukrainian armed forces. The decree encourages all men in the separatist regions to take up arms. On 18 February all women and children from the separatist regions of Donetsk and Luhansk were ordered to evacuate to the bordering Russian region of Rostov. The order was followed by explosions and shelling in the territory, which Russia-backed separatists claim were carried out by the Ukrainian forces. Ukrainian officials accuse Russia-backed separatists of staging these explosions as part of a “false flag” operation in an effort to create pretext for the Russian military actions against Ukraine.
Analyst Comment: Reports of Ukrainian shelling of separatist positions, attempted assassinations or attempted terrorist attacks continue to originate from Russia-backed separatist leadership in southeastern Ukraine and Russian officials as well as Russia-backed media outlets. Such reports do not offer credible evidence, and many utilize video footage or images that are not what they claim to be or are from past events in other locations. The escalating Russian rhetoric and the claims of the Ukrainian military offensive in the Donbass region appear to be an effort to cause panic in Ukraine and serve as justification for probable Russian military actions against the country.
Israel (Security threat level – 4): On 20 February 2022, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett announced that beginning on 1 March all travelers — regardless of their COVID-19 vaccination status — will be allowed to enter Israel. Currently, only vaccinated travelers are allowed to enter the country. Travelers will remain subject to the entry requirement stipulating that they must present a negative result from a COVID-19 PCR test taken 72 hours before travel and take another test upon arrival.
Somalia (Security threat level – 5): On 19 February 2022, a suicide attacker detonated an explosives-laden vest at a restaurant in central Beledweyne, a town located approximately 30 km (20 mi) south of the Ethiopian border. The bombing occurred at the crowded restaurant as a number of local officials and politicians had gathered for lunch. At least 13 people were killed in the blast and approximately 20 others sustained injuries. The al-Shabab militant group claimed responsibility for the bombing. Later in the day, an improvised explosive device (IED) detonated at a tea shop in the northern coastal town of Bosaso in Puntland state. At least two people were killed in the blast and 13 others were wounded. Al-Shabab did not immediately claim responsibility for the latter attack. Al-Shabab militants launched the attack in Beledweyne the day before the first round of voting for indirect parliamentary elections was set to occur in Beledweyne. The militant group has recently increased attacks in the country amid the ongoing indirect parliamentary elections, which are scheduled to conclude on 25 February.
Kazakhstan (Security threat level – 4): On 18 February 2022, the U.S. Mission in Kazakhstan issued a Security Alert regarding airport safety concerns, which reads in part as follows: “Location: Petropavlovsk and Nationwide
“Update: Due to airport safety concerns, U.S. government personnel in Kazakhstan have been instructed that they must seek approval to use Petropavlovsk Airport. Additionally, U.S. citizens are reminded that U.S. government personnel are prohibited from traveling for official duties on Kazakhstani airlines without prior approval, except for Air Astana and FlyArystan, due to safety concerns.”
Madagascar (Security threat level – 3): On 21 February 2022, the U.S. Embassy in Antananarivo issued a Weather Alert regarding Tropical Cyclone Emnati, which reads in part as follows: “Cyclone Emnati may become classified as an intense tropical cyclone and the equivalent of a major Category 4 hurricane before making landfall on the eastern coastline around the region of Manajary tomorrow Tuesday, February 22, and then move across the island in a southwesterly direction and into the Channel of Mozambique. Emnati is expected to impact Madagascar tomorrow and Wednesday with heavy rain and strong winds, which may cause flooding and landslides, as well as power and water outages. Windy.com is a good resource for the storm’s progress.
“U.S. government personnel are advised to take the following precautions: reconsider travel and stay home; stock sufficient supplies of emergency drinking water, food, and fuel; fill bathtubs with water; keep flashlights, cell phones, and other electronic devices fully charged; secure windows and loose items on the exterior of homes and yards, including patio furniture and other items susceptible to high winds.”
Russia (Security threat level – 3): On 20 February 2022, the U.S. Mission in Russia issued a Security Alert regarding threats in major urban areas, which reads in part as follows: “According to media sources, there have been threats of attacks against shopping centers, railway and metro stations, and other public gathering places in major urban areas, including Moscow and St. Petersburg as well as in areas of heightened tension along the Russian border with Ukraine.”