U.S. Army Soldier Is Detained in Russia

A U.S. Army soldier has been detained by Russian authorities in the port city Vladivostok on charges of criminal misconduct, the State and Defense Departments said on Monday, adding what is likely to be another complication in the contentious relationship between Moscow and Washington.

A military official identified the soldier as Staff Sgt. Gordon Black, 34, and said he was in the process of returning home to Fort Cavazos in Texas after being stationed in South Korea. He was apprehended on May 2, and Russia notified the State Department of the soldier’s “criminal detention” in accordance with international agreements between the two nations.

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

A State Department official reiterated the U.S. government’s warning for Americans not to travel to Russia. The arrest of Sergeant Black was reported earlier by NBC News.

The detention follows a pattern in recent years of Americans being arrested in Russia and held, sometimes indefinitely, on what U.S. officials say are often trumped-up charges. The detentions have gnawed at the already badly frayed relationship between Russia and the United States, which have clashed most notably over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine but also over a host of other matters, including what Washington says is Moscow’s push to put a nuclear weapon in space.

Evan Gershkovich, a reporter for The Wall Street Journal, has been jailed by Russian authorities for more than a year on charges of espionage that he and his employer reject. The White House has designated him “wrongfully detained,” and President Biden reiterated calls for his release last month.

Paul Whelan, a corporate security executive and former U.S. Marine, is serving a 16-year sentence in a Russian penal colony on what the U.S. government has called fabricated espionage charges. Brittney Griner, a professional basketball player, was detained in Russia for about 10 months and released in December 2022 in exchange for Viktor Bout, a Russian convicted of conspiring to kill Americans and provide material support to a terrorist group.

And in February, Russia’s main security agency said a dual citizen of Russia and the United States had been arrested in the city of Yekaterinburg on accusations of treason by raising funds for Ukraine. The woman, who lived in Los Angeles, is accused of sending just over $50 to a New York-based nonprofit that sends assistance to Ukraine. She could face up to 20 years in prison.

It took weeks of diplomacy for the United States to secure the return of another Army soldier who was recently arrested in an unfriendly country. The soldier, Pvt. Travis T. King, was released in October after being detained by North Korean authorities. He had crossed into that country from South Korea without authorization in July at the border village Panmunjom.

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