Two Russians landed at St. Lawrence Island in the Bering Sea on Wednesday to request asylum after fleeing their homeland to escape compulsory military service, both U.S. Senators from Alaska said on Thursday.
“This incident makes two things clear: First, the Russian people don’t want to fight Putin’s war of aggression against Ukraine,” Sen. Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, said in a statement on Thursday.
“Second, given Alaska’s proximity to Russia, our state has a vital role to play in securing America’s national security.”
Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, said that the two Russians landed at a beach near Gambell, a small community on the northwest tip of St. Lawrence Island.
Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a “partial mobilization” to draft about 300,000 men into active duty last month.
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Thousands of men have fled Russia in the wake of that order to neighboring countries, including Mongolia, Georgia and Kazakhstan.
Finland closed its 830-mile-long border with Russia last week to individuals with tourists visas amid the migrant surge.
Murkowski said Thursday that the arrival of two Russians in Alaska “underscores the need for a stronger security posture in America’s Arctic.”
“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,” Murkowski said Thursday.
“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 scene.”
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The Department of Homeland Security said that both men were transported to mainland Alaska.
“The individuals 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,” a DHS spokesperson told Fox News Digital.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.