May 28, 2023

Two Russians escape military service, arrive in Alaska by boat, seek asylum in US | the world

A cruise ship sails through the Castine Canal toward Juneau, Alaska – Photo: Peggy Borer/AP Photo

Two Russian nationals who escaped military service have sought asylum in the United States after arriving in Alaska by boat, officials said Thursday.

Russian President Vladimir Putin last month announced a partial military mobilization for Moscow’s war in Ukraine. Tens of thousands of men fled overseas to avoid being drafted.

The office of Senator Lisa Murkowski, who represents Alaska, said the two Russians were seeking asylum to avoid conscription. They were found near an Alaskan town about 40 miles off the Russian coast.

Putin’s mobilization proved to be one of Moscow’s most unpopular moves, sparking protests in cities and regions across the country. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which began on February 24, began to unravel last month after a Ukrainian counteroffensive reclaimed thousands of square kilometers of territory.

Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy said the two men arrived by boat from Russia and were being questioned.

“We don’t expect a continuous flow of individuals or a wave of individuals. We have no indication that this will happen, so it could be a one-off,” Dunleavy said in a statement.

The Russian embassy in Washington is aware of the case and plans to hold a phone conversation with the two citizens soon, the mission’s spokesman was quoted by the Tass news agency.