Friday, May 24, 2024

U.S. soldier detained in Russia on criminal charges

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Russian authorities have detained an American soldier on criminal misconduct charges, the U.S. Army said Monday.

Army spokeswoman Cynthia Smith said Russia’s government had notified the State Department that the soldier, whose identity was not disclosed, was taken into custody May 2 in Vladivostok, near the country’s borders with China and North Korea.

“The Army notified his family and the U.S. Department of State is providing appropriate consular support to the soldier in Russia,” Smith said in a statement.

The circumstances of the soldier’s presence in Vladivostok or the nature of the criminal charges were not immediately clear. The detention was first reported by NBC News.

A State Department spokesperson affirmed that an American citizen had been detained by Russian authorities and indicated that U.S. consular officials there would “seek to aid him or her with all appropriate assistance.”

The detention is likely to test already strained relations between Moscow and Washington, which has accused the government of President Vladimir Putin of unjustly imprisoning Americans to extract concessions from Washington.

The Biden administration says that Evan Gershkovich, a journalist for the Wall Street Journal, and Paul Whelan, a former Marine, are both wrongfully detained by Russia. The United States has released several Russians imprisoned in the United States in recent years for Americans imprisoned in Russia.

Michael Birnbaum contributed to this report.

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