Foreign nationals detained after boating from Russia to St. Lawrence Island
GAMBELL, Alaska (KTUU) - Village authorities on St. Lawrence Island notified the Coast Guard on Tuesday that two foreign nationals had landed near the community of Gambell in a small boat.
A spokesperson from Sen. Dan Sullivan’s office said the senator was made aware of the situation after being contacted by a senior community leader from the Bering Strait region early Tuesday morning. Sullivan’s office released a statement that read in part:
“Given current heightened tensions with Russia, Senator Sullivan then called the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and spoke to him as well as another senior DHS official. Since those calls, Customs and Border Protection is responding and going through the process to determine the admissibility of these individuals to enter the United States.”
The U.S. Coast Guard confirmed the men were taken to the public safety building in Gambell. Town Clerk Curtis Silook said the men were flown off the island on Tuesday. According to Silook, the men told villagers they had sailed their boat from the city of Egvekinot in Northeastern Russia, approximately 300 miles by sea. Other villagers said the men told them they were fleeing the Russian military.
On Wednesday, Governor Mike Dunleavy commented on the situation.
“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,” Dunleavy said. “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.”
The situation is being handled by the Department of Homeland Security.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.
Editor’s note: In an initial statement to Alaska’s News Source, the Coast Guard referred to the two people as “Russian nationals.” The Coast Guard later told Alaska’s News Source that the two people are currently considered “foreign nationals.”
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