2 Americans and 5 Britons captured by Russian-backed forces in Ukraine are freed in prisoner swap

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Alexander John-Robert Drueke, left, and Andy Tai Ngoc Huynh, right.

CNN  — 

Two American veterans and 5 British citizens who had been held by Russian-backed forces for months person been released arsenic portion of the captive swap betwixt Russia and Ukraine that was brokered by Saudi Arabia.

Family members of Americans Alexander John-Robert Drueke and Andy Tai Ngoc Huynh, who were captured successful June portion warring for Ukraine northbound of Kharkiv, confirmed they had been freed. British Prime Minister Liz Truss tweeted that 5 British citizens had been released. Additionally, 3 prisoners who are Moroccan, Swedish and Croatian nationals were released successful the swap, the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.

“Hugely invited quality that 5 British nationals held by Russian-backed proxies successful eastbound Ukraine are being safely returned, ending months of uncertainty and suffering for them and their families,” Truss said.

Drueke’s aunt released a connection confirming the merchandise of her nephew, 39, from Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and Huynh, 27, of Hartselle, Alabama.

“We are thrilled to denote that Alex and Andy are free. They are safely successful the custody of the US embassy successful Saudi Arabia and aft aesculapian checks and debriefing they volition instrumentality to the States. We profoundly admit everyone’s prayers and particularly the adjacent connection and enactment of our elected officials, Ukrainian Ambassador Markarova, and our members of the US embassies successful Ukraine and Saudi Arabia and the US Department of State,” said Diana Shaw, a spokesperson for some families and Dreuke’s aunt.

The families did not cognize that the captive speech was successful the works.

The Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs said successful a connection that the 10 freed prisoners were “released arsenic portion of an speech of POWs betwixt Russia and Ukraine” and taken to Saudi Arabia.

CNN antecedently reported that the 2 Americans were captured during a conflict adjacent Kharkiv. Their pro-Russian captors, the alleged Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR), is simply a Russian-backed, self-declared republic that has governed a breakaway information of Ukraine’s Donetsk portion since 2014.

Bunny Drueke, Alexander’s mother, and Huynh’s fiance, Joy Black, told CNN successful June that selflessness and a emotion for the US fueled their loved ones’ determination to spell to Ukraine.

“He is 1 of the astir loyal Americans you would ever anticipation to conscionable and helium was arrogant to service his country,” Drueke said of her son. “He said, ‘Mom, I truly request to spell and assistance combat successful Ukraine due to the fact that if Putin is not stopped determination helium is not going to beryllium satisfied, helium volition go emboldened and yet Americans volition beryllium threatened.’”

Black said astatine the clip that her fiancé “didn’t spell determination for selfish reasons oregon anything. He truly had this gnawing astatine his bosom and this large load connected him to spell and service the radical nevertheless helium can.”

This communicative had been updated with further details Wednesday.

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