Russians Detained After Sailing to Alaska Island

Villagers said Russian citizens told them they were fleeing military
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 6, 2022 12:20 PM CDT
Russians Detained After Sailing to Alaska Island
Russian mountains can be seen in the background of this photo of Gambell.   (Lane Schwartz/Wikimedia Commons)

Two Russian citizens who arrived on an Alaskan island in a small boat Tuesday morning are now in federal custody. St. Lawrence Island is one of the places Sarah Palin was talking about when she said you can see Russia from Alaska—it's less than 40 miles away from the Chukchi Peninsula in northeast Siberia,. Authorities say the Coast Guard sent a C-130 cargo plane to retrieve the two Russian nationals after they arrived in the village of Gambell, and they are now in the custody of Customs and Border Protection, the Anchorage Daily News reports. Villagers said the men told them they were fleeing the Russian military and had sailed to the Bering Sea island from a Russian city around 300 miles away, reports KTUU.

Other countries near Russia have seen large numbers of men fleeing military mobilization arrive in recent weeks. "There were two individuals, they were detained in Gambell," Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy said Wednesday, per the Daily News. He added: "This was a surprise to us. We do not anticipate a continual stream of individuals." A spokesman for Sen. Dan Sullivan said CBP is working to "determine the admissibility of these individuals to enter the United States." People with knowledge of the situation declined to comment on the record to the paper, citing concern "for the Russians' safety and that of relatives who may still reside in Russia." (Read more Alaska stories.)

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