Two Russians seek asylum after reaching St. Lawrence Island

Published: Oct. 6, 2022 at 4:56 PM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - Villagers on St. Lawrence Island were met with quite the surprise when two foreign nationals arrived by boat to the tiny Alaskan Island on Tuesday.

St. Lawrence Island, Alaska. Photo courtesy AK Senators Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan.
St. Lawrence Island, Alaska. Photo courtesy AK Senators Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan.(KTVF)

A city clerk from Gambell, which is a community on Saint Lawrence, said the two men sailed their boat from Egvekinot, Russia to St. Lawrence Island. The distance between the Northeastern Russian community and St. Lawrence is approximately 300 miles.

The men told villagers they were trying to escape the Russian military and were at sea for two days.

“The Russian nationals reported that they fled one of the coast communities on the east coast of Russia to avoid compulsory military service,” stated the Associated Press, and “have requested asylum in the U.S.”

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is now handling the case. DHS Public Affairs office, said the individuals, “were transported to Anchorage for inspections, 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.”

Governor Mike Dunleavy said on Wednesday, “He did not expect a continual stream of “flotilla” of individuals traversing the same route.” Traveling in this area is dangerous and not advised with another storm predicted in the area.

Senator Lisa Murkowski said this incident stresses “the need for a stronger security posture in America’s Arctic.”

Senator Dan Sullivan stated, “This incident makes two things clear. First, the Russian people don’t want to fight Putin’s war of aggression against Ukraine.” Sullivan added, “Second, given Alaska’s proximity to Russia, our state has a vital role to play in securing America’s national security.”