Two Russian nationals were detained in Alaska last week after they landed on St. Lawrence Island in a boat.
The island is located in the Bering Sea, not far from the border between the U.S. and Russia. These developments come amid rising tensions between the two great powers over the war in Ukraine.
The Russian detainees were seized by U.S. authorities in the town of Gambell, a mere 40 or so miles from the Russian coast, according to the Anchorage Daily News.
They were handed over to federal Customs and Border Protection agents and flown to the Alaskan mainland.
In a Wednesday media briefing, Gov. Mike Dunleavy said the detainees were in Anchorage. The governor added that the incident was a surprise and that “we do not anticipate a continual stream of individuals.”
Federal and state officials have been tight-lipped about the situation, the Daily News reported. It is unclear whether these Russians landed on American shores due to the conflict in Ukraine.
One theory is that they were fleeing the partial military mobilization order handed down by Russian President Vladimir Putin last month. Hundreds of thousands of Russians have left the country following the announcement of the order, according to Newsweek.
Alaska Sen. Dan Sullivan has sought to gain more information about the incident from CBP, which falls under the Department of Homeland Security.
Sullivan’s communications director explained in a statement, “Given the current heightened tensions with Russia, Senator Sullivan called the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security and spoke to him as well as another senior DHS official.”
“Since those calls, Customs and Border Protection is responding and going through the process to determine the admissibility of these individuals to enter the United States.”
This is not the first time in recent weeks that tensions have flared in the Bering Sea. Just last month, the U.S. Coast Guard spotted a joint force of Russian and Chinese warships practicing maneuvers not far from American waters.
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