2 Russians sailed 300 miles across the Bering Strait to a remote island in Alaska to avoid Putin's military draft




  • In World
  • 2022-10-06 20:05:16Z
  • By Business Insider
 
Russian President Vladimir Putin points while visiting the exhibition after riding a train across the bridge linking Russia and Crimean Peninsula at Taman railways station on December 23, 2019 near Anapa, Russia
Russian President Vladimir Putin points while visiting the exhibition after riding a train across the bridge linking Russia and Crimean Peninsula at Taman railways station on December 23, 2019 near Anapa, Russia  
  • Two Russians sailed hundreds of miles to a remote Alaskan island, local and federal officials said.

  • According to a media report, the individuals were fleeing Putin's military mobilization.

  • A Homeland Security official told Insider the individuals were sent to Anchorage to be processed.

Two Russians trying to avoid President Vladimir Putin's partial military mobilization sailed hundreds of miles across the Bering Strait to a remote Alaskan island, according to a report and multiple officials.

The individuals landed Tuesday in a small boat near the city of Gambell, local outlet KTUU reported Wednesday. Local authorities then informed the Coast Guard of what happened.

The Russians told some locals that they sailed from Egvekinot, a remote village in eastern Russia about 300 miles away, according to the report. Other villagers said the men informed them that they fled the Russian military. 

Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy confirmed the incident during a Wednesday press conference and said "my understanding is that they're in Anchorage now, being dealt with by federal authorities."

A Department of Homeland Security spokesperson confirmed this to Insider on Thursday, and said "the individuals were transported to Anchorage for inspection, which includes a screening and vetting process, and then subsequently processed in accordance with applicable US immigration laws under the Immigration and Nationality Act."

Gambell is a city of about 500 people located on the northwest tip of St. Lawrence Island, which is along the middle of the Bering Strait. Gambell is about 200 miles from the city of Nome, on Alaska's mainland.

Egvekinot, Russia and Gambell, Alaska.
Egvekinot, Russia and Gambell, Alaska.  

Last month, after Putin announced the partial military mobilization of his country's reservists, many Russians attempted to flee so they wouldn't be sent to fight in Ukraine. As they did, Russians faced traffic jams at borders with neighboring countries and sold-out or very expensive flights.

Putin's announcement came after weeks of military setbacks in Ukraine. Now, weeks later, his troops continue to face aggressive counteroffensive moves by Ukrainian forces that have forced Russian troops into retreat.

"We don't anticipate a continual stream of individuals, or a flotilla of individuals - we have no indication that's going to happen. So this may be a one-off," Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy said, adding that the situation "was a surprise to us."

"Who knows what's going to happen in the future, if more individuals from Russia attempt to leave Russia through the Bering Strait," he added.

US Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan said in a joint statement Thursday that the two individuals have requested asylum in the US.

Murkowski criticized federal authorities in her statement for their response to the Russian nationals and said it was too slow. She praised the response from local officials and state agencies.

"This incident makes two things clear: First, the Russian people don't want to fight Putin's war of aggression against Ukraine," Sullivan said in his Thursday statement. "Second, given Alaska's proximity to Russia, our state has a vital role to play in securing America's national security."

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