The US State Department has listed Russia as one of the most dangerous countries to visit in 2018.

The department's latest travel advice, released on Wednesday (10 January), urged US citizens to "reconsider travel" to Russia this year because of serious risks to safety and security.

Nearly 250,000 US citizens travel to Russia each year, the Moscow Times reported.

Russia is listed as a level three country on the State Department's new travel advisory system, along with Sudan, Pakistan and Niger.

The new system categorises countries into four levels and is based on seven risk factors, including crime and civil unrest.

"Reconsider travel to Russia due to terrorism and harassment," the advice reads.

American travellers are advised against visiting seven regions in the North Caucasus because of concerns of civil unrest, kidnapping and torture, and are advised against going to the Crimean peninsula because of "abuses by occupying authorities".

A spokeswoman for the Russian foreign ministry described the new advice as a scare tactic designed to distance the two countries.

"If US citizens come to Russia then they'll see with their own eyes that nothing that American public officials are scaring them with is actually true," Maria Zakharova said.

The travel advice was released in the same week that Donald Trump's lawyers were reported to be holding talks with Robert Mueller's special counsel to arrange a date for an interview with the president.

The president said this week that it was unlikely he would be interviewed over alleged collusion between his administration and the Kremlin.

"When they have no collusion - and nobody has found any collusion at any level - it seems unlikely that you would even have an interview," Trump told reporters.