Americans and five Britons detained by Russia in Ukraine released in prisoner exchange



CNN

Two US war veterans and five British nationals who had been held by Russian-backed forces for several months have been released as part of a prisoner exchange between Russia and Ukraine brokered by Saudi Arabia.

Family members of the Americans Alexander John Robert Drwick and Andy Tay Ngoc Huynh They got caught In June, during the fighting for Ukraine, north of Kharkiv, confirmed their release. British Prime Minister Liz Truss chirp Five British nationals have been released. In addition, three Moroccan, Swedish and Croatian prisoners were released in the exchange, according to the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

“I very much welcome the news that five British nationals held by Russia-backed proxies in eastern Ukraine will be safely returned, ending months of uncertainty and suffering for them and their families,” Truss said.

Drake’s aunt released a statement confirming the release of her nephew, 39, of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and Huynh, 27, of Hartselle, Alabama.

“We are pleased to announce that Alex and Andy are free. They are being held safely in the custody of the US Embassy in Saudi Arabia and after medical examinations and debriefings they will return to the United States. We deeply appreciate everyone’s prayers, in particular the close communication and support Our elected officials, Ukrainian Ambassador Markarova, and our members at the U.S. Embassies in Ukraine, Saudi Arabia, and the U.S. Department of State.” and Aunt Drake.

The families did not know that a prisoner exchange was being prepared.

The Saudi Foreign Ministry said in a statement that the 10 released prisoners “were released as part of the prisoner-of-war exchange between Russia and Ukraine” and were transferred to Saudi Arabia.

CNN previously reported that the Americans were captured during a battle near Kharkiv. Their pro-Russian kidnappers, the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR), is a Russian-backed, self-proclaimed republic that has governed a separate part of Ukraine’s Donetsk region since 2014.

Bunny Drake, Alexander’s mother, and Huynh’s fiancée Joy Black, To CNN in June This altruism and love for the United States fueled their loved ones’ decision to go to Ukraine.

“He’s one of the most loyal Americans she’d ever hope to meet, and he was proud to serve his country,” said Drewicki of her son. “He told me, Mom, I really need to go and help the fight in Ukraine because if Putin isn’t stopped there he won’t be satisfied, he’ll get emboldened and eventually Americans will be threatened.”

Black said at the time that her fiancé “didn’t go there for selfish reasons or anything. He really had this gnawing at his heart and this huge burden on him to go and serve people however he could.”

This story was updated with additional details on Wednesday.

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