Two Russian nationals who fled military service sought asylum in the United States after arriving by boat in Alaska, officials said on Thursday.
Russian President Vladimir Putin last month announced a partial military deployment for Moscow’s war in Ukraine. Tens of thousands of men fled abroad to avoid being recruited.
The office of Senator Lisa Murkowski, who represents Alaska, said the two Russians claimed they were seeking asylum to avoid mandatory military service. 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. The Russian invasion of Ukraine, which began on February 24, has begun to unravel after a Ukrainian counteroffensive regained thousands of square kilometers of territory last month.
Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy said the two individuals came from Russia on a boat and were being questioned.
“We do not anticipate a continuous flow of individuals or a flotilla of individuals. We have no indication that this will happen, so this may be unique,” Dunleavy said in a statement.
The Russian embassy in Washington is aware of the case and plans to have a phone conversation with the two citizens soon, a spokeswoman for the mission said, according to the Tass news agency.