US-Russia Relations

Reports: Russia detains American soldier

According to NBC News, the soldier entered Russia from South Korea and is accused of stealing from a local woman.

Guards in a Russian prison (Photo: Shutterstock)

According to reports in the US media, the State Department has confirmed that Russia has jailed an American soldier. This follows an NBC News report about the soldier traveling from South Korea to Russia. The report states that the soldier in question was not traveling on "official business" and that he was arrested on charges of "stealing from a woman." The soldier joins two other Americans - Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich and former Marine Paul Whelan serving jail time in Russia.

The move comes at an especially fragile time in US-Russian relations, and follows previous prisoner exchanges that saw the US returning Russian warlord Victor Bout for American basketball star Brittney Griner, who had been convicted of smuggling and possession of cannabis and handed out a nine-year prison term. Bout, an internationally-wanted warlord known for supplying Soviet-era weapons to groups like the Taliban and central African warzones, was imprisoned in Thailand in 2008 and transferred to the US for criminal prosecution.

House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX) pointed out that he was "deeply concerned" by the arrest.

“I am deeply concerned by reports that a US Army officer has been detained in Russia. Putin has a long history of holding American citizens hostage. A warning to all Americans—as the State Department has said, it is not safe to travel to Russia,” McCaul was quoted as saying.

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