I have family in Crimea and would like to visit them. I've read Executive Order 13685, but am unsure how to interpret it. Are U.S. nationals prohibited from traveling or spending money in Crimea? Does spending money count as "investment"? Would I have to declare to Customs on the way back that I traveled to Crimea, and if so, would I be subject to Treasury Department/OFAC investigation for this travel? I've heard that simply saying that I didn't spend money, and that all resources I consumed were gifts, would get me through Customs fine. Is this a valid loophole?
The US State Department website indicates (updated after the executive order):
The Department of State warns U.S. citizens to defer all travel to the eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk. In addition, Russian military forces continue to occupy the Crimean Peninsula and are present on the eastern border of Ukraine.
It does not explicitly ban it, however.
Indeed, certain members of the Russian state have had travel bans imposed on them by the US government, Canada and the EU, however, there's nothing currently stopping you travelling to Crimea.
So for now, while you need to be careful, the US State Department has not outlawed travel there.