Americans Those held by Russian-backed forces for more than three months returned to US soil on Friday afternoon.
Americans Alexander John Robert Drwick and Andy Tay Ngoc Huynh have arrived in New York City after being released earlier this week in prisoner exchange Between Russia and Ukraine mediated by Saudi Arabia. Their families said they believed the men were in good health.
“We know they’re talking, they’re breathing, they’re mobile, and they look a lot like themselves,” Darla Black, Huynh’s fiancée mother, told CNN Friday.
The two men were Captured in June During the fight for Ukraine in a battle near Kharkiv. Their pro-Russian kidnappers, the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR), is a Russian-backed, self-proclaimed republic that has governed a separate part of Ukraine’s Donetsk region since 2014.
CNN previously reported that Drueke’s and Huynh’s families did not speak to the Alabama men during their time. months prison Until they received unexpected phone calls from the US Embassy in Saudi Arabia on Wednesday.
“I have your son standing next to me,” Bunny Drake remembers a woman from the US Embassy in Saudi Arabia telling her.
The families did not know that a prisoner exchange was being prepared.
“My brain couldn’t make out because there was no warning,” Drwick’s mother told CNN reporter Anderson Cooper.
Joy Black, Huynh’s fiancée, told CNN’s Erin Burnett that Huynh ordered beef spaghetti — a meal he’s been craving since he was in Ukraine — as soon as he returned to Alabama.
Even after their arrest, their families say the men said they did not regret going to fight with the Ukrainians.
“Alex told me emphatically no, no sorry,” his aunt, Diana Shaw, told CNN. They really want people to understand that Ukraine needs our support. They need the support of all democratic countries. They need democracies to unite and push (Russian President Vladimir) Putin back.”
Four regions began to be occupied by Russia vote Friday in polls on joining Russia, according to their separatist leaders, in a move that increases the risks of an invasion of Moscow. Referendums, considered illegal under international law and rejected by Western and Kiev governments as sham, could pave the way for Russia’s annexation of the regions, allowing Moscow to frame the current Ukrainian. counterattack As an attack on Russia itself.
President Joe Biden said on Friday the United States You’ll never know Referendums of Russia in the occupied parts of Ukraine.
The United States will never recognize Ukrainian territory as anything other than part of Ukraine. Biden said in a statement that Russia’s referendums are a sham and a false pretense of trying to annex parts of Ukraine by force in flagrant violation of international law, including the United Nations Charter.
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