American soldier detained in Russia pleads guilty to stealing, state media claims

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Russian state media claims that an American soldier detained in Russia’s far east has pleaded guilty to stealing and is cooperating with investigators.

Staff sergeant Gordon Black, 34, was arrested on 3 May in Vladivostok on Russia’s east coast and charged with stealing from a woman he was in a relationship with.

On Thursday, the Ministry of Internal Affairs for the Primorsky Territory said he has admitted to stealing, according to state news agency RIA Novosti. "He is cooperating, he admitted guilt," RIA quoted a representative of the ministry as saying.

Mr Black, who was stationed at Camp Humphreys outside Seoul, South Korea, went to Russia on 10 April. He met the Russian woman he was in a relationship with and then quarrelled with her.

His mother Melody Jones told NBC News that the soldier was arrested for stealing $100 from the woman who she believed had “lured” Mr Black to Russia.

John Kirby, spokesperson for the White House, told Politico that the US was aware of the situation but did not comment further.

Relations between Moscow and Washington have nose-dived since Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022.

The US has warned citizens against travelling to Russia, citing an array of reasons, including "the potential for harassment and the singling out of US citizens for detention by Russian government security officials".

“We have no higher priority than the safety and security of US citizens overseas,” a spokesperson for the State Department previously told The Independent. “When a US citizen is detained abroad, consular officers seek to aid him or her with all appropriate assistance.”

“US citizens residing or travelling in Russia should depart immediately, as stated in our Travel Advisory for Russia.”

Russia has detained several American citizens, including Evan Gershkovich, a reporter for The Wall Street Journalwho was told last month that he will stay in jail until at least the end of June.

Gershkovich is accused of espionage.

In 2022, Russian police detained American basketball player Brittney Griner on drug charges. She was released in a prisoner swap in December 2022 and has since written a book about her experience.