December 8, 2022

Two US veterans held for months by Russian-backed forces in Ukraine They were released Saudi Arabia, which brokered the deal, said Wednesday, as part of a prisoner exchange.

Alexander Drewic and Andy Tai Huynh were released along with eight other prisoners of war, including nationals of the United Kingdom, Morocco, Sweden and Croatia. Drueke, a former Army sergeant who served in Iraq, and Huynh, a former Marine, were captured near the Ukrainian border city of Kharkiv in June. The duo traveled from Alabama to fight against invading Russian forces.

The Saudi Foreign Ministry said that the prisoner exchange was mediated by by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The state added that it is also working to repatriate all prisoners of war.

It is not clear who was released to Russia as part of the deal.

US Veterans Andy Tai Huynh (left) and Alexander Drwick
US Veterans Andy Tai Huynh (left) and Alexander Drwick

Jeronimo Nessa/Decator Delle, left; and Lois “Bunny” Drueke / Dianna Shaw, via AP, File

Diana Shaw, Darwick’s aunt, He told the Washington Post On Wednesday, his mother spoke to him for 10 minutes after his release.

“He sounded frank, with clear speech,” Shaw told the newspaper. “It looked like him.”

The prisoner exchange came at a pivotal moment in the Kremlin invasion. Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday that he would call up about 300,000 reservists to support his country’s ongoing offensive. This effort comes amid heavy losses for the Russians as their seven-month offensive continues.

British Prime Minister Liz Truss to thank Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelensky and the Saudis to release British prisoners, saying the exchange had ended “months of uncertainty and suffering for them and their families”.

“We very much welcome the news that five Britons held by Russia-backed proxies in eastern Ukraine have been safely returned,” she wrote on Twitter. Russia must end the brutal exploitation of prisoners of war and civilian detainees for political purposes.

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