2 U.S. Veterans Held By Russian-Backed Forces In Ukraine Freed In Prisoner Swap

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Two U.S. veterans held for months by Russian-backed forces successful Ukraine were freed arsenic portion of a captive swap, Saudi Arabia, which brokered the deal, said Wednesday.

Alexander Drueke and Andy Tai Huynh were released alongside 8 different prisoners of war, including citizens from the U.K., Morocco, Sweden and Croatia. Drueke, a erstwhile Army unit sergeant who served successful Iraq, and Huynh, a erstwhile Marine, were captured adjacent the Ukrainian borderline metropolis of Kharkiv successful June. The brace had traveled from Alabama to combat against invading Russian forces.

The Saudi Foreign Ministry said that the captive swap was brokered by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The state added that it’s besides moving to repatriate each the POWs.

It’s unclear who was released to Russia arsenic portion of the deal.

U.S. subject   veterans Andy Tai Huynh (left) and Alexander Drueke
U.S. subject veterans Andy Tai Huynh (left) and Alexander Drueke

Jeronimo Nisa/The Decatur Daily, left; and Lois "Bunny" Drueke/Dianna Shaw, via AP, File

Dianna Shaw, Drueke’s aunt, told The Washington Post connected Wednesday that his parent had spoken to him for astir 10 minutes aft his release.

“He sounded clearheaded, with wide speech,” Shaw told the paper. “He sounded similar himself.”

The captive speech came astatine a pivotal infinitesimal successful the Kremlin’s invasion. Russian President Vladimir Putin connected Wednesday said helium would telephone up astir 300,000 reserve troops to bolster his country’s ongoing attack. The effort comes amid staggering losses for the Russians arsenic its seven-month battle drags on.

British Prime Minister Liz Truss thanked Ukrainian person Volodymyr Zelenskyy and the Saudis for releasing the U.K. prisoners, saying the speech had ended “months of uncertainty and suffering for them and their families.”

“Hugely invited quality that 5 British nationals held by Russian-backed proxies successful eastbound Ukraine are being safely returned,” she tweeted. “Russia indispensable extremity the ruthless exploitation of prisoners of warfare and civilian detainees for governmental ends.”

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.

— Liz Truss (@trussliz) September 21, 2022
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