Russia says U.S.-Russian woman arrested over suspected treason for helping Ukraine’s armed forces

Russia says U.S.-Russian woman arrested over suspected treason for helping Ukraine's armed forces

Russia’s FSB security services announced on Tuesday the arrest of a woman with dual U.S.-Russian citizenship on suspicion of treason, allegedly for raising funds to support the Ukrainian army. The FSB, operating in the central Urals city of Yekaterinburg, stated that it had “suppressed the illegal activities” of a 33-year-old woman, identified only as a dual national residing in Los Angeles, and placed her under arrest.

According to the FSB, the woman had been actively soliciting funds that were subsequently utilized to procure tactical medical supplies, equipment, weaponry, and ammunition for the Ukrainian armed forces.

This development comes just days ahead of the two-year anniversary of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, marking one of the most devastating conflicts in Europe since World War II. President Biden has been advocating for additional funding for Ukraine, emphasizing its critical importance in enabling the country to defend itself against Russian aggression.

Russian state news agency RIA Novosti released a video from the FSB depicting hooded officers handcuffing and escorting the woman, who was clad in a white coat with a hat concealing her eyes.

The FSB accused the woman of acting against the security interests of Russia while supporting the Ukrainian army during her time in the United States. Treason, under strengthened legislation since the commencement of the military offensive, carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.

Several U.S. citizens are presently incarcerated in Russia, including Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich, arrested last year on espionage charges dismissed by him, his employer, and the U.S. government as unfounded.

Former U.S. Marine Paul Whelan has been detained in Russia since 2018, serving a 16-year prison term on espionage charges. Secretary of State Antony Blinken recently disclosed a phone conversation with Whelan, whom the U.S. considers wrongfully detained, along with Gershkovich.

Alsu Kurmasheva, another dual U.S.-Russian national and journalist, is also held in pre-trial detention, facing accusations of failing to register as a “foreign agent” and violating Russia’s stringent military censorship laws.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has expressed a desire to negotiate a prisoner exchange, proposing to swap imprisoned Russians for detained U.S. citizens. Prior exchanges between the two nations have occurred, notably the high-profile swap at the end of 2022 involving the release of WNBA star Brittney Griner in exchange for Viktor Bout, a notorious arms dealer incarcerated in the U.S.