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Watch Russian separatists release two US veterans, later land in NYC

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On Wednesday, officials announced that two American veterans and eight other prisoners who had been held captive by Russian separatists have been released. These vets had been released as a part of a prison exchange and have landed in New York City, around noon, on Friday. The exchange was negotiated by Saudi Arabia.

Alex Drueke and Andy Huynh, both US veterans had disappeared sometime in June, when they had gone individually to fight the Russian forces, in Ukraine. They had met in the country and had bonded over their common roots in Alabama. They were last seen in the Kharkiv region, in Eastern Kharkiv, before returning to the nation, via Saudi Arabia.

After landing at the JFK airport in NYC, 40-year old Alex Drueke told the Associated Press that both he and 27-year old Huynh were looking forward to spending time with family and that they would get in touch with the media, soon. He added, “Happy to be home.”


Dianna Shaw, who is an aunt of Drueke, had said in an email that both the men had spoken with family members. She also said that an official in the embassy said that they were in “pretty good shape.”

She also said that Drueke’s mother and Hyunh’s fiancée were flying to NYC to meet them, later on Friday and that all of them would travel to Alabama, on Saturday. The families later released a statement that said that both Drueke’s mother and Huynh’s fiancée had met the vets in New York City and that they would be going home, on Saturday.

US officials thanked both the Saudi government and Ukraine for their release. The nation doesn’t recognize the sovereignty of the Donetsk People’s Republic. It does not maintain diplomatic relations with them. So, it had to seek help from Saudi Arabia for the release of its veterans, Drueke and Hyunh. The Saudi Embassy said that eight other prisoners from the UK and Morocco as well as from Croatia and Sweden had also been released along with the US veterans.

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