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U.S. soldier detained in Russia and accused of stealing, officials say

A US soldier was arrested in Russia last week, a US military spokesperson said in a statement.

The soldier, the sergeant. Gordon Black was stationed in South Korea and traveled to Russia on his own account and not for official business, according to four U.S. officials.

He had completed his deployment and was returning to the United States when he took a detour to Vladivostok, Russia, to visit a woman with whom he was romantically involved, officials said. They added that he went there without permission from his superiors and was now being held in pre-trial detention.

The trooper is accused of robbing a woman, officials said. It was not immediately clear if this was the same woman he was visiting.

The soldier was arrested Thursday, U.S. Army spokeswoman Cynthia O. Smith said in a statement.

Smith said the soldier was apprehended in Vladivostok “for criminal misconduct.”

“The Russian Federation has informed the United States Department of State of his criminal detention, in accordance with the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations,” Smith said. “The Army has notified his family and the U.S. Department of State is providing appropriate consular support to the soldier in Russia. Given the sensitivity of this matter, we are unable to provide additional details at this time.”

The Grand Kremlin Palace in Moscow.File Ian Walton/Getty Images

Representative Michael McCaul, Republican of Texas, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said he was “deeply concerned” by reports that a soldier had been arrested in Russia.

“Putin has a long history of taking American citizens hostage,” McCaul said in a statement. post shared on. “A warning to all Americans: As the State Department has said, it is not safe to travel to Russia.”

Current travel guidelines from the U.S. Department of State restrict citizens’ travel to Russia. “Exercise increased caution due to the risk of unwarranted detentions,” according to the State Department advisory. The Pentagon is also restricting the movement of Defense Department personnel.

Black is one of several Americans detained in Russia, including several civilians.

Arrests of Americans in Russia have increased as relations between the two countries have fallen to Cold War lows, the Associated Press reported. The United States has accused Russia of targeting Americans and using them as bargaining chips, according to the AP.

Among the most prominent U.S. citizens detained are Wall Street Journal journalist Evan Gershkovich, who was jailed last March, and former Marine Paul Whelan, who was arrested in 2018. The U.S. government said Gershkovich and Whelan were wrongly detained.

WNBA star Brittney Griner spent 10 months in Russian penal colonies on drug charges but was released in a rare prisoner swap for Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout in 2022.

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