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Two US Vets Saved From Putin’s Claws in Saudi-Brokered Prisoner Swap

Two American military veterans fighting for Ukraine were captured by Russians and facing executions.

They have now been released in a surprising, high-profile exchange of prisoners of war brokered by Saudi Arabia. This also involved key Ukrainian commanders and a pro-Russian Ukrainian oligarch close to Putin.

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Two Americans’ Heroism in Defending Ukraine

The two Americans who spent three months in Russian captivity are 39-year-old Alexander John-Robert Drueke and 28-year-old Andy Tai Ngoc Huynh, both natives of Alabama.

Drueke is a former US Army veteran with time served in Iraq. Huynh is a former US Marine.

Earlier this year, they joined Ukraine’s 20,000-strong international volunteers’ corps, which was formed barely weeks after bloodthirsty Russian dictator Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine with 200,000 troops.

Drueke and Hyunh’s capture occurred in the Eastern Ukrainian region of Kharkiv after their small unit encountered a much larger Russian detachment.

They were caught after managing to disable a Russian battle tank with a hand grenade.

After Drueke and Hyunh fell into Russian captivity, authorities of the Russian proxies sentenced to death two British citizens who had been captured earlier while fighting for Ukraine.

Brief videos released by the Russians shortly after Drueke and Hyunh were captured showed traces of torture. In them, they condemned the war, but were clearly under duress.

(Putin’s Ukrainian ally Medvedchuk seen here after his capture in March.)

High-Profile Prisoner Exchange of Nearly 300 People

The two American fighters for Ukraine’s freedom were released by Russia on Thursday, together with seven other foreign volunteers: five British and one each from Morocco, Croatia, and Sweden.

After their release, they were flown to Saudi Arabia, whose Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced it brokered a POW prisoner swap between Ukraine and Putin’s regimes, CNN reported.

A statement put out by Drueke’s aunt confirmed her nephew, a native of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, was released together with Huynh, who is from Hartselle, Alabama.

The two of them made it safely to the US Embassy in the Saudi capital Riyadh and were about to fly home to the United States.

The aunt, Diana Shaw, who is a spokesperson on behalf of both men’s families, revealed the relatives had no idea about the prisoner exchange deal.

The POW swap between Ukraine and Russia, though, was far bigger than the ten foreign volunteer fighters. It involved a total of 280 individuals, The Daily Mail reported. It saw some very high-profile figures handed over to the other side.

One of the most notable of those is Viktor Medvedchuk, a rich pro-Russian Ukrainian oligarch, i.e tycoon, who was supposed to become the leader of Ukraine if it got conquered by Russians.

Medvedchuk has been very close to Putin; the Russian dictator is godfather to his daughter.

The oligarch was kept in Ukraine since 2021 under house arrest on charges of treason.  Likewise, he was caught in the spring disguised as a Ukrainian military officer while trying to flee the country.

He has now been handed over to Putin, together with other Russian POWs.

This article appeared in MorningPress and has been published here with permission.

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