US soldier detained in Russia after meeting woman who claims to be his wife

A U.S. soldier was detained on criminal charges in eastern Russia after he flew there from South Korea without official authorization.

The Army said the soldier was supposed to be on the way to Fort Cavazos in Texas after receiving orders from his latest assignment, the Eighth Army at Camp Humphreys in South Korea.

Staff Sgt. Gordon Black, 34, signed out on leave after processing out of the Eighth Army on April 10 and flew from South Korea’s Incheon Airport to Vladivostok, Russia, via China.

“Black did not request official clearance, and DoD did not authorize his travel to China and Russia,” Army spokeswoman Cynthia Smith said. “There is no evidence Black intended to remain in Russia” after his leave ended, she added.

The U.S. Embassy in Moscow was informed that Black had been arrested on May 2nd for “theft of personal property,” according to Bloomberg.

His mother and regional police both report Black traveled to Russia to see a former girlfriend whom he had met in South Korea.

While visiting her, she told police he stole money from her home after he left, according to Russia News Agency, Tass.

RFE/RL found the TikTok account of Black’s alleged romantic partner, Aleksandra Vashchuk.

Her account features numerous videos of the couple together in South Korea, including at least one showing Black in his U.S. Army fatigues.

In one video, Black offers his opinion of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

“I understand Russia’s position, obviously. They want to defend their country,” Black says before Vashchuk interjects and says former U.S. President Donald Trump “is better” than current U.S. President Joe Biden.

His mother, Melody Jones, appeared on “Good Morning America” and claims her son told her the Russian woman was deported to Russia from South Korea after they allegedly got into a dispute in the fall of 2023.

She also claims her son told her he was questioned by authorities at the airport for “nine hours” upon his arrival in Russia.

“I knew something was going to happen,” Jones said.

“It’s just hard being a mom and being in that situation,” Jones she added. “Not being able to touch him, you know? Hug him and tell him it will be OK.”

According to ABC, a State Department official confirmed the U.S. Embassy in Moscow is seeking to gain access to the detained soldier but has not yet been allowed to meet with him.

They also said the soldier is being held in pretrial detention through July 1, and that deadline is likely to be extended.

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