US soldier detained in Russia, US Army says

By Phil Stewart

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -A U.S. soldier has been detained in Russia on charges of criminal misconduct, the U.S. Army said on Monday, that country's latest high-profile detention of an American.

A U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the soldier had been based in South Korea. Another U.S. official said the soldier was accused of stealing from a woman.

The Army did not offer details on the charges, citing the sensitivity of the matter. It said Moscow notified the U.S. State Department of the soldier's criminal detention in accordance with the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations.

"On May, 2, 2024, Russian authorities in Vladivostok, Russia, detained an American soldier on charges of criminal misconduct," the Army said.

The soldier's arrest was first reported by NBC News.

Russia's embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The Russian daily Izvestia, quoting an unnamed source, said the South Korea-based Army sergeant met a woman from Russia's far eastern port of Vladivostok on the Internet.

Izvestia said the couple lived together for a time. But he beat her and stole 200,000 roubles ($2,200) from her.

President Joe Biden's administration has been lobbying Moscow to release multiple Americans, including Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich.

Gershkovich, 32, became the first U.S. journalist arrested on spying charges in Russia since the Cold War when he was detained by the Federal Security Service (FSB) on March 29 last year. He, his newspaper and the U.S. government all deny he is a spy.

Gershkovich and Paul Whelan, an American convicted of spying against Russia and sentenced to 16 years in 2020, have both been designated by the U.S. State Department as "wrongfully detained", meaning Washington considers the charges against them bogus and is committed to working for their release.

Asked about the soldier's detention, a U.S. State Department spokesperson confirmed only that "a U.S. citizen has been detained in Russia."

"We reiterate our strong warnings about the danger posed to U.S. citizens inside the Russian Federation. U.S. citizens residing or traveling in Russia should depart immediately, as stated in our Travel Advisory for Russia," the State Department spokesperson said.

"Due to privacy and other considerations we have no further details to provide at this time."

(Reporting by Phil Stewart; additional reporting by Humeyra Pamuk, Doina Chiacu and Ron Popeski; Editing by Chris Reese, Franklin Paul and David Gregorio)