Saudi Arabia has successfully freed 10 prisoners who were being held by Russian-backed forces, including two American veterans and five British citizens, as part of a prisoner swap between Russia and Ukraine, CNN reports.
The families of American vets Alexander John-Robert Drueke and Andy Tai Ngoc Huynh have confirmed that two are "are safely in the custody of the U.S. embassy in Saudi Arabia" awaiting clearance to return to the states. Both were captured in June while fighting on behalf of Ukraine north of Kharkiv.
British Prime Minister Liz Truss tweeted in celebration of the release of five British citizens who were also part of the group of prisoners. Truss wrote, "Hugely welcome news that five British nationals held by Russian-backed proxies in eastern Ukraine are being safely returned, ending months of uncertainty and suffering for them and their families."
Diana Shaw, a spokesperson for both families, released a statement confirming the release of the two Americans. In it, Shaw said, "We deeply appreciate everyone's prayers and especially the close communication and support of our elected officials, Ukrainian Ambassador Markarova, and our members of the U.S. embassies in Ukraine and Saudi Arabia and the U.S. Department of State."
The families were not aware that authorities were brokering the prisoner exchange. The Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced the release of 10 POWS on Wednesday. The group also included Moroccan, Swedish, and Croatian nationals.