US soldier’s detention in Russia extended to July as Pentagon begins probe

A U.S. soldier arrested in Russia last week will be detained into July as the Pentagon investigates the circumstances of his travel, a Russian court announced Tuesday.

Army Staff Sgt. Gordon Black’s detainment was extended until July 2 after he was arrested on May 2 in Vladivostok, Russia, for alleged theft of personal property, the Pervomaisky District Court of Vladivostok said in a statement.

“When choosing a preventative measure in the form detention, the court came to the conclusion that US citizen B., under the weight, in order to avoid responsibility, could hide from the preliminary investigation authorities and the court, thereby preventing the proceedings in the case,” the Russian court said.

Black, 34, is “accused of secretly stealing the property” of a civilian and “causing latter significant damage,” the court stated. Neither the U.S. Army nor the court has not provided additional details over what prompted the arrest, though four U.S. officials told NBC News that Black has been accused of stealing, apparently from a woman he was visiting.

Reuters cited the Russian interior ministry saying a 32-year-old woman filed the complaint after the two had an argument. He was arrested in a local hotel, having bought a plane ticket to return home, Reuters reported.

U.S. Army spokesperson Cynthia O. Smith said Black was stationed at Camp Humphreys in South Korea until taking a permanent change of station (PCS) leave April 10, when he was expected to travel to Fort Cavazos, Texas.

On his own accord, Black instead flew from Incheon, South Korea, through China to Vladivostok in Russia’s Far East for “personal reasons,” Smith said.

Black’s mother, Melody Jones, told ABC News’s “Good Morning America” her son traveled to Russia to visit his girlfriend. She reportedly said the two met a club in South Korea more than a year ago, but the woman was deported to Russia from South Korea after getting into a dispute with Black last fall.

The Pentagon confirmed Tuesday the U.S. Army is investigating whether Black was lured to Russia by the country’s intelligence services.

“The Army has opened an administrative investigation to determine the facts and the circumstances surrounding his travel, but to your question on, you know, will there be consequences for his actions, that’s something that the Army’s going to look into through their investigation,” deputy press secretary Sabrina Singh said at a Tuesday press conference.

Black did not request official clearance to travel to Russia and had not received authorization from the Defense Department to travel to Russia or through China, the Army added.

The Hill reached out to the Russian Embassy and the Pentagon for further comment.

The incident comes amid increasing arrests of Americans who travel to the country, as tensions persist between the two nations in the wake of Russia’s war with Ukraine. The Kremlin maintains it arrests only those who broke the law, while the U.S. alleges Russia is targeting U.S. citizens for political leverage.

For the latest news, weather, sports, and streaming video, head to The Hill.