CNN – Two American veterans and five British civilians who had been held for months by Russian-backed forces were freed as part of a Saudi-brokered Russian-Ukrainian prisoner swap.
Relatives of Americans Alexander John-Robert Drewke, 39, of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and Andy Tai Ngok Huynh, 27, of Hartsell, Alabama, confirmed they had been released. He was captured while fighting for Ukraine north of Kharkiv in June.
Druke’s aunt issued a statement confirming the release of the two Americans.
“We are pleased to announce that Alex and Andy are free. They are safe in the custody of the United States Embassy in Saudi Arabia and, after medical examination and questioning, will return to the United States. From the depths of our prayers all Appreciate and in particular the close communication and support of our elected officials, Ambassador Markova of Ukraine, and members of the US embassies in Ukraine and Saudi Arabia, as well as the US State Department,” Diana said. Shaw, spokesperson for both families and Drake’s aunt.
The families were unaware of the prisoner exchange schemes.
British Prime Minister Liz Truss tweeted that five British nationals were released.
“It is reported that five British nationals held by Russian-backed forces in eastern Ukraine have been safely returned, ending the uncertainty and suffering for them and their families,” Truss said.
Earlier on Wednesday, the Saudi Foreign Ministry announced the release of 10 prisoners of Moroccan, American, British, Swedish and Croatian nationalities.
According to a statement by the Saudi Foreign Ministry, the prisoners were “released as part of the Russian-Ukrainian prisoner-of-war exchange” and taken to Saudi Arabia.