Ukraine Country Report
Travel to most regions of Ukraine (population 44 million) can generally be expected to take place under good conditions. Travelers should nonetheless take certain precautions, including avoiding all travel to eastern regions of the country due to ongoing armed conflict.
In March 2014, armed separatist groups began taking over territory in eastern parts of the country (particularly in Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts), prompting the government to launch a significant military operation to regain control in the region. Clashes between Ukrainian state forces and the separatists have been taking place on a near-daily basis despite a number of ceasefire agreements made since 2014. Most Western governments formally advise against all travel to the cities of Donetsk, Horlivka, Makiyivka, Mariupol, and Luhansk (and their outskirts) as well as areas near the Russian border. Furthermore, they advise against nonessential travel to the oblasts (provinces) of Donetsk, Luhansk, and Kharkiv in their entirety. According to the UN, more than 10,300 people have lost their lives in this conflict (2.7 million displaced).
Tensions remain high in Crimea, which was annexed by Russia in March 2014. A number of Western governments advise against non-essential travel to this area due to precarious security conditions. The region is currently under the de facto control of Russia, despite the fact that almost the entire international community has denounced the annexation. Foreign nationals wishing to visit the peninsula must first obtain a Russia visa; potential travelers should also note that air travel between Crimea and the rest of Ukraine has been suspended and that individuals in Crimea are not permitted to cross the border into Ukraine by land.
Ukraine has not been a target of major terrorist attacks in recent years. However, bomb threats against government buildings, metro and train stations, and shopping malls are received regularly. Security forces investigate all received threats, the majority of which are hoaxes.
Additionally, there have been reports of targeted assassinations in central Kyiv. In October 2017, a suspected vehicle-born improvised explosive device (VBIED) detonated, killing two people and injuring a member of parliament. A prominent member of a volunteer battalion that had fought in the Donbass region was killed when a bomb attached to his car exploded in September 2017.
Various far-right organizations, including the Right Sector (Pravy Sector), the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists, and the Unified Union of Patriots of Ukraine, frequently organize protests and other events in Kyiv and other major cities. These events typically occur under strict surveillance by security forces, and clashes between protesters and police have occurred.
Tensions have been on the rise in Kyiv since October 2017 as the government has been accused of failing to implement anti-corruption measures. A series of anti-corruption protests have been led by former Georgian president and governor of Odessa Mikhail Saakashvili. Clashes between protesters and police have taken place, including in November 2017 when police attempted to detain Saakashvili.
The next presidential and legislative elections are due to take place in 2019.
Standards in healthcare facilities are generally lower than those in EU countries. A comprehensive health insurance plan providing coverage abroad should be acquired prior to leaving for the country. Higher quality health care is available in in major urban areas.
Drinking tap water is not advised.
Travelers are advised to ensure their vaccinations are up-to-date, particularly tuberculosis and measles. The number of tuberculosis cases is on the rise in the south (Odessa, Mykolaiv, Zaporizhzhya) and the east (Donetsk, Kharkiv, Chernihiv). Measles is present in Kyiv and Odessa, and 14 of the country's 24 provinces. As of early February, over 3500 cases of measles have been confirmed in the country in 2018. Additionally, an uptick in botulism cases was reported in 2017; Individuals should avoid consuming home-canned, preserved, or fermented foods.
Travelers are reminded that certain regions in Ukraine are still contaminated from the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, which took place nearly three decades ago (1986).
Crime rates in Ukraine are relatively high. While violent crime is relatively rare, thefts are increasingly frequent and foreigners are often targeted for their presumed affluence in major urban areas. There has been an increase in reports of foreigners being targeted for attacks, often racist in character, perpetrated by bands of skinheads that primarily operate in downtown Kyiv.
Identity theft crimes involving ATMs and credit cards are reported on a regular basis.
Avoid any ostentatious behavior and remain vigilant at all times. Keep a low profile and conceal jewelry and cameras; avoid withdrawing large sums of cash. Be especially vigilant at night and while driving alone in isolated areas (risk of carjacking); if driving through isolated areas, travel in a convoy of at least two vehicles and carry reserves of water and fuel.
Finally, local weather conditions, such as the torrential rains and floods observed in the west of the country in spring 2010 (Chernivtsi oblast; several deaths; damage to homes; several thousand residents evacuated) and the wave of extreme cold that struck the country in February 2012 (responsible for 100 deaths), can cause significant damage and disrupt the movement of people and goods. Forest fires can also occur in the country; two fires sprung up near the Chernobyl nuclear plant in April and June 2015.
Winter storms commonly produce hazardous conditions (strong winds, heavy snowfall, ice) and cause significant transportation disruptions nationwide between November and February. In January 2018, much of the country saw snowfall of up to 40 cm (16 in), with winds up to 70 km/h (44 mph).
The climate is temperate-continental thanks to the influence of the Siberian High (Siberian Anticyclone). Winter is harsh and snowy in the north and the east and lasts approximately four months. Temperatures are milder along the coast of the Black Sea (in the south). Summers are long and hot with sometimes violent thunderstorms. Autumns are sunny and mild.
Useful NumbersCountry Code: +380 Police: 02 Fire Dept.: 01 Ambulance: 03
Voltage: 220 V ~ 50 Hz
Ukraine: Commemorative events expected in Kyiv February 18-20
TIMEFRAME: from 2/16/2018, 12:00 AM until 2/22/2018, 11:59 PM (Europe/Kiev).
Ukraine: Saakashvili deported to Poland February 12 /update 1
TIMEFRAME: from 2/12/2018, 12:00 AM until 2/14/2018, 11:59 PM (Europe/Kiev).