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Russia Arrests American Reporter

Russia announced the arrest of Evan Gershkovich, a correspondent at The Wall Street Journal. He is believed to be the first American reporter to be held as an accused spy in Russia since the collapse of the Soviet Union. The arrest was a stunningly provocative move, aimed at one of the best-known Western journalists still working inside Russia and his employer, a pillar of the American news media. With the arrest, President Vladimir Putin signaled to the world that he was doubling down on Russia’s wartime isolation. Gershkovich, like other Western journalists, had the Kremlin’s formal approval to work there. But Russia’s options for retaliation have grown increasingly limited, Europe has largely weaned itself off its dependence on Russian energy imports, and major Western companies have largely cut ties with Russia. Western journalists have thus become one of the few remaining potential pressure points, as a possible spring offensive looms. Gershkovich, 31, grew up in Princeton, N.J., as a child of Soviet émigrés. The Journal vehemently denied the accusations against him. The White House condemned the arrest. Russian officials said he was “caught red-handed” and jailed in Yekaterinburg, about 900 miles east of Moscow. In past espionage cases, Russia has used detentions to instigate prisoner exchanges. Gershkovich faces up to 20 years in prison. Acquittals in such cases are virtually unheard-of.

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