US Soldier Tells Russian Court He Didn’t Threaten to Kill His Girlfriend

US Soldier Tells Russian Court He Didn’t Threaten to Kill His Girlfriend
Gordon Black is escorted in a court during a hearing in Vladivostok, Russia, on June 6, 2024. (Tatiana Meel/Reuters)

U.S. soldier Gordon Black pleaded not guilty in a Russian court on June 17 to charges of threatening to kill his girlfriend although he admitted he was “partially” guilty of stealing from her, Russian state media said.

The soldier, speaking through an interpreter, “partially” acknowledged his guilt on the charge of stealing 10,000 roubles ($113) from Alexandra Vashchuk’s purse but said that “there was no intent,” RIA news agency said.

But Mr. Black denied the accusation that he grabbed Ms. Vashchuk by the neck during a quarrel, causing her to fear for her life.

RIA said Ms. Vashchuk testified that Mr. Black needs psychiatric help, not heavy punishment, and that she wasn’t willing to reconcile with him because she hadn’t received compensation.

Another state news agency, TASS, quoted Ms. Vashchuk as saying that Mr. Black had been aggressive to her more than once.

The pair met in South Korea, where Mr. Black was stationed. The Pentagon has said that he broke Army rules by traveling to Russia without authorization, having passed through China.

Mr. Black has a wife and child in Texas. His wife, Megan, told Reuters last month that he and Ms. Vashchuk had a tempestuous relationship and that once, during a video call, she and her daughter saw Ms. Vashchuk pull a knife on Mr. Black and leave him with a bloodied face.

Mr. Black’s mother, Melody Jones, told Reuters he had followed his girlfriend to Russia even though they “fought like cats and dogs.”

Regarding the theft charge, TASS quoted Mr. Black as saying in court that he had transferred a total of more than $500 to Ms. Vashchuk via an acquaintance before he was arrested—much more than the amount he was alleged to have stolen.

TASS cited Ms. Vashchuk as saying he had also contributed most of the cost of an apartment where they had been staying. Mr. Black said he had transferred about 300,000 roubles to her before he arrived in Vladivostok from South Korea.

Both sides will present arguments in court at the next session on June 19, and Mr. Black will have a chance to make a concluding statement.