Wednesday, September 9

Is Russia Still Holding American Servicemen Captive?

Is Russia Still Holding American Servicemen Captive? This was one question that a joint US-Russia Team was set up to try and answer back in the 90's after the fall of the Soviet Union.
US-Russia Joint Commission on POW/MIAs

In March 1992, the Presidents of the United States and Russian Federation joined together to establish the U.S.-Russia Joint Commission on POW/MIAs (USRJC). The work of the Commission focuses on three primary objectives:
  • - To determine if any American POW/MIAs are being held against their will on the territory of the former Soviet Union and, if so, to secure their immediate release and repatriation;
  • - To determine the fate of unaccounted-for members of the U.S. Armed Forces who were located on the territory of the former Soviet Union or about whom the Russian Government may have information; and
  • - To clarify facts pertaining to Soviet personnel missing from their their war in Afghanistan, from Cold War-era loss incidents, and from World War II.
To this day the Russians have failed to respond to requests for clear information on American POWs taken by or transfer to the Soviet Union.
The work of the U.S. Side of the Commission to resolve the transfer issue continues. Hopefully, at some point, circumstances will change to allow for a thorough, bilateral inquiry into this elusive question. In the meanwhile, we proceed with our efforts to examine the data we have, pursue new leads, and make our findings known through reports such as this. In a sense, we are not unlike the thousands, if not tens of thousands, of Russian citizens who have embarked on a similar quest to learn the facts about their own relatives who disappeared in the gulag. Ultimately, for them as for us, it is persistence which will shape the outcome of this often frustrating, occasionally promising, and always daunting enterprise.
President Obama was recently in Russia praising the Soviet Union. Perhaps his time might have been better spent bringing up unresolved issues such as this one. After all, in order to press the 'reset button' we either need to resolve issues like this one or just forget about them. Unfortunately, the President seems more eager to take the latter route, which will do nothing in terms of bringing out a better Russia as we move forward towards a modern peaceful future together.

I personally do not think that there are any living American POWs in the former Soviet Union, however Russia needs to come clean on the past and provide whatever information it has on Americans that were kidnapped (for lack of a better word) and whose lives ended in the Gulag. Russia is the sole holder of this information. If there was nothing to hide then why haven't they said so?

And just to keep in mind the potential size of the problem, take these two comments:

Stalin learned what was happening and retaliated. He permanently "retained" the American and British soldiers whom he still held as bargaining chips. What did he do with them? He carted them to the Soviet Union where they lived the rest of their lives in the Russian gulags. How many American and British soldiers? Over 20,000 Americans and over 30,000 British and Commonwealth soldiers! In fact, as the authors of Soldiers of Misfortune point out: "Starting in 1945, the Soviet Union became the second-largest employer of American servicemen in the world." - fff.Org
More than 8,100 American servicemen were never accounted for. Many of them presumably died in battle and their bodies were never recovered. For others, especially P.O.W.s that never came home, there has been speculation, based on documents later found in the Kremlin archives, that hundreds of U.S. servicemen were secretly held against their will. They were to be used as political pawns by the Chinese or Soviets or to be used for medical experiments, according to a report in Newsweek magazine. - SPTimes
As Americans we should demand and answer to this question.
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