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Mom of captured U.S. soldier Gordon Black says girlfriend ‘lured’ him to Russia

The concerned mother of a U.S. soldier detained in Russia said Wednesday that her son “was lured there” by a Russian woman he had been seeing in South Korea for more than a year and was being held on the base false accusations of stealing approximately $100. her.

Melody Jones said she thought her son, Staff Sgt. Gordon Black was set up by his girlfriend, who she identified as Aleksandra Vashchuk.

“I think she convinced him to come over there,” Jones said in a video interview from his home in Cheyenne, Wyoming. “He wanted to see her one last time before going home, so he went.”

Russians arrested Black, 34, on charges of theft last week after he traveled from the military base in South Korea where he was stationed to the Russian city of Vladivostok, in Russia’s far east.

A Defense Department spokesperson said Tuesday that the military was investigating whether Russian intelligence specifically targeted black people.

“An administrative investigation is underway to determine the facts and circumstances of his trip,” Deputy Press Secretary Sabrina Singh said at a news conference on Tuesday.

Black is an experienced soldier with 16 years of service who was supposed to go to Fort Cavazos, Texas, to begin a new mission, the Army said.

When asked why Black would risk traveling to a country where other Americans are being held against their will, Jones had a one-word response.

“She,” she said. “He met her at the bar where she worked, and they have been together, on and off, for about a year and a half. I’ve never met her in person, but I’ve spoken to her via Messenger. My motherly instinct told me something was wrong with her.

Jones said her son, who is going through a divorce, “is a good kid with a cute, crooked smile.”

“He was also a good soldier” and speaks Russian fluently, she said.

But Vashchuk had a kind of hold on him, she said.

“I was talking about it with my husband and we don’t know what it is,” Jones said. “Why would she cling to him?”

On Tuesday, Radio Free Europe discovered what it says is the TikTok account of a woman who posted several videos of herself apparently with black people in South Korea in 2022 and 2023. The woman said in the videos that she had lived in South Korea for five years.

Jones said that woman appeared to be Vashchuk.

The Russian Foreign Ministry office in Vladivostok said Black’s detention had nothing to do with politics or espionage.

Black did not have Defense Department authorization to travel to Russia, and there was no indication he planned to stay there, Army spokeswoman Cynthia O. Smith said Tuesday.

An attorney for Megan Black said in a statement Thursday that she and Black are divorcing.

She “firmly believes that Mr. Black’s decision to travel to Russia, although ill-advised, was motivated by entirely personal reasons involving an extramarital affair between him and a Russian national and that Mr. Black is not involved in no form of geopolitical conflict. intriguing,” said attorney Brett Pritchard.

Megan Black hopes that “her husband will receive a quick and fair resolution to his current legal situation and will be able to secure his release back to his country as quickly as possible,” the statement said. said.

Staff Sgt. Gordon Black.Facebook

“Instead of returning to the continental United States, Black flew from Incheon, Republic of Korea, via China to Vladivostok, Russia, for personal reasons,” Smith said in a statement. communicated.

When Black landed in Vladivostok, he was charged with “secret theft of property” from a person called “citizen T” and was detained until at least July 2, the court spokeswoman said Tuesday. from Pervomaisky district, Elena Oleneva, in a statement.

The court confirmed that Black would be detained for at least two months.

Jones said his son told him he was in civilian clothes when he was taken off the plane and questioned for several hours.

Black, who grew up in a small town in southern Illinois, enlisted in the Army as an infantryman in 2008, Smith said. From October 2009 to September 2010, he served in Iraq, Smith said. He also served in Afghanistan from June 2013 to March 2014.

Most recently, Smith said, Black was assigned to Eighth Army and based at Camp Humphreys in South Korea, which is the largest overseas U.S. military installation in the world.

On April 10, Black was “kicked out” and given two weeks to travel to Texas, Smith said.

Current State Department travel guidelines advise against travel to Russia.

Jones said his son told him he planned to stop in Vladivostok before flying to Texas.

“I was afraid he was going to leave, because the government there is taking over Americans,” she said.

Among the captive Americans are Wall Street Journal journalist Evan Gershkovich, imprisoned in March 2023, and former Marine Paul Whelan, arrested in 2018.

“I told him not to go,” Jones said. “I was more worried about him going to Russia than when he was in Iraq and Afghanistan. »

Jones said her son texted her after his arrest.

“The last thing I got from him was, ‘Don’t worry about me, I’m fine,'” she said.

Jones said her son had listed her as his emergency contact and that’s why she received a call from the State Department on Thursday informing her that he had been arrested by the Russians. She said she had not heard from anyone since and did not know if her wife had been in contact with the military.

“They have a 6 1/2-year-old daughter,” Jones said. “And he misses his dad.”

Jones said Black was not his only son. She has two others, as well as a daughter. So she won’t be alone on Mother’s Day.

“Gordon called me at least once a week,” she said. “And he usually sends me flowers for Mother’s Day.” Last time it was two dozen red roses. But I guess not this year.

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