US soldier arrested in Russia, Army officials confirm

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An American soldier is being held by Russian authorities on charges of criminal misconduct, Army officials confirmed Monday.

In a statement, Army spokeswoman Cynthia Smith said the service member was arrested on May 2 by Russian authorities in Vladivostok. She did not provide any information about the soldier’s identity or reasons for being in Russia.

“The Russian Federation notified the U.S. Department of State of the criminal detention in accordance with the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations,” she said. “The Army notified his family and the U.S. Department of State is providing appropriate consular support to the soldier in Russia. “

NBC News reported that the soldier had been stationed in South Korea and traveled to Russia on his own. The Associated Press cited U.S. officials who said the man was in the process of returning home to the United States but instead diverted to Russia, where he was accused of theft.

White House officials earlier on Monday confirmed reports of a U.S. soldier being detained in Russia but did not offer any specifics. White House national security spokesman John Kirby said that administration officials are closely following the situation.

Smith said the Army was withholding other details of the situation due to “the sensitivity of this matter.”

Tensions between the United States and Russia have risen since the invasion of Ukraine by Russian forces in early 2022. While no American troops have been directly involved in the fighting, U.S. officials have supplied more than $75 billion in military and humanitarian aid to Ukrainian leaders to help in the conflict.

Former U.S. Marine Paul Whelan has been held by Russian authorities since 2018 on allegations of suspicion of spying. In 2020 he was sentenced to 16 years in jail, but his family and U.S. authorities have decried the charges as baseless.

Last summer, a 23-year-old Army private fled South Korea to North Korea after facing multiple legal problems. He was returned to American custody after two months there, and charged with desertion alongside the other criminal charges.

Leo covers Congress, Veterans Affairs and the White House for Military Times. He has covered Washington, D.C. since 2004, focusing on military personnel and veterans policies. His work has earned numerous honors, including a 2009 Polk award, a 2010 National Headliner Award, the IAVA Leadership in Journalism award and the VFW News Media award.

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