Filed Under: International

Russia-Ukraine negotiate prisoner release, two Americans freed

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After racking up wins on the battlefield Ukrainian leaders are enjoying some diplomatic victories. One of those victories is the release of two Americans captured by Russia.

Alex Drueke and Andy Huynh are both military veterans and both from Alabama. They went to Ukraine to fight as volunteers, and were captured together amidst heavy fighting. In a prisoner release brokered by Saudi Arabia, 10 men, including the two Americans, were freed by the Russians.

The men were taken to the U.S. Embassy in Saudi Arabia, and are expected to return stateside soon.

In another diplomatic victory, Turkey helped Ukraine negotiate a deal releasing 215 prisoners captured by Moscow. Half of those released are fighters from the Azov Regiment. The Regiment formed in 2014 as a volunteer militia to fight pro-Russian forces. The Regiment eventually became part of Ukraine’s National Guard.

The Azov fighters released in the exchange were captured at a steel factory in Mariupol after holding out for weeks. Russia calls Azov a terrorist group, and vowed to put the captured fighters on trial. With their release, that obviously can’t happen.

Several pro-war bloggers in Russia are openly criticizing the prisoner swap.

One former Russian intelligence officer said the release is “worse than a crime” and called it “incredibly stupid.” In exchange for nearly 200 fighters, Ukraine released 55 Russians and Viktor Medvedchuk, a Putin ally and leader of a banned pro-Moscow group in Ukraine.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called the exchange a clear victory for his country.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken thanked Ukraine for including all prisoners of war, regardless of nationality, in its prisoner negotiations.

Reuters contributed to this report.

AFTER RACKING UP WINS ON THE BATTLEFIELD UKRAINIAN LEADERS ARE ENJOYING SOME DIPLOMATIC VICTORIES; ONE OF WHICH SAW THE RELEASE OF TWO AMERICANS CAPTURED BY RUSSIA.

ALEX DRUEKE AND ANDY HUYNH ARE BOTH MILITARY VETERANS AND BOTH FROM ALABAMA. THEY WENT TO UKRAINE TO FIGHT AS VOLUNTEERS AND WERE CAPTURED TOGETHER AMIDST HEAVY FIGHTING.

IN A PRISONER RELEASE BROKERED BY SAUDI ARABIA, 10 MEN, INCLUDING THE TWO AMERICANS, WERE FREED BY THE RUSSIANS.

THE MEN WERE TAKEN TO THE U.S. EMBASSY IN SAUDI ARABIA, AND ARE EXPECTED TO RETURN STATESIDE SOON.

IN ANOTHER DIPLOMATIC VICTORY, TURKEY HELPED UKRAINE NEGOTIATE A DEAL RELEASING 215 PRISONERS CAPTURED BY MOSCOW.

HALF OF THOSE RELEASED ARE FIGHTERS FROM THE AZOV REGIMENT.

THE REGIMENT FORMED IN 2014 AS A VOLUNTEER MILITIA TO FIGHT PRO-RUSSIAN FORCES. THE REGIMENT EVENTUALLY BECAME PART OF THE NATIONAL GUARD.

THE AZOV FIGHTERS RELEASED IN THE EXCHANGE WERE CAPTURED AT A STEEL FACTORY IN MARIUPOL AFTER HOLDING OUT FOR WEEKS.

RUSSIA CALLS AZOV A TERRORIST GROUP, AND VOWED TO PUT THE CAPTURED FIGHTERS ON TRIAL.

WITH THEIR RELEASE, THAT OBVIOUSLY CAN’T HAPPEN.

SEVERAL PRO-WAR BLOGGERS IN RUSSIA ARE OPENLY CRITICIZING THE PRISONER SWAP.

ONE FORMER RUSSIAN INTELLIGENCE OFFICER SAID THE RELEASE IS WORSE THAN A CRIME AND CALLED IT INCREDIBLY STUPID.

IN EXCHANGE FOR NEARLY 200 FIGHTERS, UKRAINE RELEASED 55 RUSSIANS AND VIKTOR MEDVEDCHUK, A PUTIN ALLY AND LEADER OF A BANNED PRO-MOSCOW GROUP IN UKRAINE.

UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT VOLODYMYR ZELENSKY CALLED THE EXCHANGE A CLEAR VICTORY FOR HIS COUNTRY.

SECRETARY OF STATE ANTONY BLINKEN THANKED UKRAINE FOR INCLUDING ALL PRISONERS OF WAR, REGARDLESS OF NATIONALITY, IN ITS PRISONER NEGOTIATIONS.

After racking up wins on the battlefield Ukrainian leaders are enjoying some diplomatic victories. One of those victories is the release of two Americans captured by Russia.

Alex Drueke and Andy Huynh are both military veterans and both from Alabama. They went to Ukraine to fight as volunteers, and were captured together amidst heavy fighting. In a prisoner release brokered by Saudi Arabia, 10 men, including the two Americans, were freed by the Russians.

The men were taken to the U.S. Embassy in Saudi Arabia, and are expected to return stateside soon.

In another diplomatic victory, Turkey helped Ukraine negotiate a deal releasing 215 prisoners captured by Moscow. Half of those released are fighters from the Azov Regiment. The Regiment formed in 2014 as a volunteer militia to fight pro-Russian forces. The Regiment eventually became part of Ukraine’s National Guard.

The Azov fighters released in the exchange were captured at a steel factory in Mariupol after holding out for weeks. Russia calls Azov a terrorist group, and vowed to put the captured fighters on trial. With their release, that obviously can’t happen.

Several pro-war bloggers in Russia are openly criticizing the prisoner swap.

One former Russian intelligence officer said the release is “worse than a crime” and called it “incredibly stupid.” In exchange for nearly 200 fighters, Ukraine released 55 Russians and Viktor Medvedchuk, a Putin ally and leader of a banned pro-Moscow group in Ukraine.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called the exchange a clear victory for his country.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken thanked Ukraine for including all prisoners of war, regardless of nationality, in its prisoner negotiations.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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