Russians detained in Alaska after unusual arrival – media
Two “foreign nationals” were discovered near the community of Gambell on Tuesday. Gambell is located on the westernmost tip of the island and is some 58 kilometers (36 miles) away from the Russian Chukotka Peninsula.
The men told locals in Gambell that they had sailed there in a tiny boat from the town of Egvekinot in Northeastern Russia, town clerk Curtis Silook told a local media outlet. The town is located more than 480 kilometers (300 miles) away from St. Lawrence Island.
The Coast Guard initially referred to the detained pair as “Russian nationals” but later said that they were now considered “foreign nationals.” The officials have not revealed any details about their identity or nationalities.
Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy confirmed the incident on Wednesday. “These two individuals that came over from Russia in a boat and were detained in Gambell, my understanding is they are in Anchorage now being dealt with by federal authorities,” he said. The governor also called their arrival a “surprise,” adding that the local authorities should not “anticipate a continual stream of individuals or a flotilla of individuals.”
“We have no indication that’s going to happen,” he said.
The two have since been transferred into the custody of the Customs and Border Protection and the US Department of Homeland Security is currently assessing their case, the media reported. The local authorities also informed Alaska Senator Dan Sullivan, who said he discussed the issue with the head of Homeland Security, Alejandro Mayorkas. Sullivan also said that the matter was “going through the process to determine the admissibility of these individuals to enter the United States.”
The reasons that prompted the two men to supposedly undertake such a daring adventure remain unknown, but some villagers reportedly have claimed the boatmen told them they were attempting to flee from the Russian military.
It is also unclear if the pair indeed sailed all the way from Egvekinot to Gambell. Russian officials have not yet commented on the situation.