After the mediation efforts initiated by its staunch ally Saudi Arabia, Russia released 10 prisoners of war (POWs) including the foreign fighters that were captured by the Russian forces during the ongoing military operation in Kyiv. On Wednesday, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman brokered talks to secure the release of the US and UK fighters held in captivity by the Russian soldiers, the Saudi foreign ministry said in a statement.
Moscow freed American, British, Croatian, Moroccan and Swedish national fighters captured during the conflict in Ukraine, the Saudi foreign ministry iterated, adding that the that a plane carrying the POWs had landed in the kingdom. The release, according to the Saudi ministry, was a part of the prisoner exchange between Russia and Ukraine. The statement, as seen by Middle East Eye newspaper, credited the success of the mediation to the crown prince’s “continued commitment to humanitarian initiatives towards the Russian-Ukrainian crisis and continued engagement with relevant countries”. It continued that the Saudi authorities were “facilitating procedures for their safe return to their respective countries.”
“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs expresses the gratitude and appreciation of the government of the kingdom of Saudi Arabia to the Russian Federation and to Ukraine for their response to the efforts made by the Crown Prince for the release of the POWs,” Saudi foreign ministry stressed in the statement.
Two American fighters, Aiden Aslin, and other Brit POWs released
Among those released by Russia were two American fighters that were held captive named Alexander Drueke and Andy Tai Huynh, the former US military soldiers who had volunteered to go to the war from Alabama. Drueke’s aunt, Dianna Shaw, told America’s WaPo that Drueke was among the other American fighters who were “safely in the custody of the US embassy in Saudi Arabia and after medical checks and debriefing they will return to the states.” An official with the US embassy confirmed in a statement separately to the paper that both fighters were “good in shape.”
UK Prime Minister Liz Truss informed that Russia released five Britons that were held by pro-Russian separatists in the eastern Donbass region. She stated that they were “being safely returned, ending months of uncertainty and suffering for them and their families”. Aiden Aslin, a Briton who was sentenced to death by a court in the pro-Russia separatist region in eastern Ukraine, was among those who were let go. Ashlin and “the other British prisoners of war held captive by the Russian authorities” were already on their way back to the UK, said MP, Robert Jenrick adding that they were being flown from Russia to Saudi Arabia. “Aiden’s return brings to an end to months of agonising uncertainty for Aiden’s loving family in Newark who suffered every day of Aiden’s sham trial but never lost hope,” Jenrick told Guardian separately.