Two Russians flee to Alaska by boat to escape Putin's draft for Ukraine invasion

The Alaskan island where the Russians landed is 36 miles from Siberia.

Updated: October 7, 2022 - 10:11am

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Two Russians arrived on a remote Alaskan island in the Bering Sea by boat to seek asylum in the U.S. to escape President Vladimir Putin's mobilization of military reservists, according to the state's U.S. senators and government officials. 

Putin issued a mobilization decree to draft 300,000 reservists for his invasion of Ukraine, but an estimated 200,000 Russians have fled as a result, The Washington Post reports

The two Russians who fled their country arrived at a beach near the town of Gambell, a small Alaska Native community of about 600 people on St. Lawrence Island, which is 36 miles from the Chukotka Peninsula, Siberia, according to the Associated Press

A spokesperson for GOP Sen. Lisa Murkowski told the wire service Thursday that "the Russian nationals reported that they fled one of the coastal communities on the east coast of Russia to avoid compulsory military service."

Murkowkski reportedly said: "We are actively engaged with federal officials and residents in Gambell to determine who these individuals are, but right now, we already know that the federal response was lacking. Only local officials and state law enforcement had the capability to immediately respond to the asylum seekers, while Customs and Border Protection had to dispatch a Coast Guard aircraft from over 750 miles away to get on the scene."

Fellow GOP Sen. Dan Sullivan said that federal authorities should create a plan in the event that "more Russians flee to Bering Strait communities in Alaska."

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

The Department of Homeland Security told the Associated Press that the Russians defectors after having reached the U.S. "were transported to Anchorage for inspection, which includes a screening and vetting process, and then subsequently processed in accordance with applicable U.S. immigration laws under the Immigration and Nationality Act."