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Alaska governor says arrival of two Russian asylum seekers is ‘maybe a one-off’

Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy (R-AK) speaks at the White House in Washington on July 16, 2020. (Photo by JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images)

Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy said during a news conference Wednesday night that the arrival of two Russian nationals seeking asylum in the US to avoid the Moscow project had come as a surprise and that officials “didn’t anticipate a continual flow of individuals.”

The Russians crossed the Bering Strait and landed on St. Lawrence Island, west of Alaska, earlier this week.

“Russian nationals reported fleeing one of Russia’s East Coast coastal communities to avoid mandatory military service,” said Karina Borger, a spokeswoman for Alaska Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski.

The governor said “this may be an isolated incident,” warning that a storm is hitting parts of northwestern Alaska and adding that “any kind of transit through the Bering Strait over the next two days could be dangerous.”

The individuals were transported to Anchorage for inspection, which includes screening and screening, and were then processed in accordance with US immigration laws, a spokesperson for the Department of Homeland Security told CNN.

The Russian embassy in Washington said its diplomats will hold a “telephone conversation” with the two male citizens, according to the Russian state news agency TASS.

More context: The couple’s arrival in Gambell, Alaska, comes after Russian President Vladimir Putin last month called for the “partial mobilization” of the country’s population, prompting an exodus of Russian men from the country, with cars lining up to cross the border into neighboring Finland, Georgia and Mongolia.

Anti-recruitment protests have been found in ethnic minority regions, and some military enlistment offices have been burned down. The announcement of the mobilization has also sparked anti-war protests across Russia.

At its narrowest point, the distance between mainland Russia and Alaska is 88 kilometers, according to the Alaska Public Lands Information Centers.

CNN has contacted the Alaska governor’s office.

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