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Americans freed in Ukrainian prisoner swap

Released Ukrainian soldiers Associated Press/Ukrainian Security service Press Office

Americans freed in Ukrainian prisoner swap

The families of Americans Alexander J. Drueke and Andy Tai Ngoc Huynh confirmed Thursday that the two are at a U.S. embassy in Saudi Arabia. The two were released as part of a larger prisoner swap of 215 Ukrainian soldiers. Ukrainian authorities said many of their soldiers had faced the death penalty. The freed Ukrainians included five generals from the Azov Regiment that fought in the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol that Russia forced to surrender in mid-May. 

Who did they give Russia? In exchange for 200 of the prisoners, Ukraine gave Russia Viktor Medvedchuk, a pro-Putin Ukrainian. He had worked with Russia in the Ukrainian government, becoming so close to Russian President Vladimir Putin that he named Putin the godfather of his daughter. The oligarch faced up to life in prison for treason and for aiding and abetting a terrorist organization. Ukraine also traded 55 Russian soldiers for the five Azov Regiment generals. 

Dig deeper: Read Jill Nelson’s report in WORLD magazine on the international effort to hold Russia accountable for war crimes.

Mary Muncy

Mary Muncy is a breaking news reporter for WORLD. She graduated from World Journalism Institute and Patrick Henry College.

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