US thanks Turkey for role in helping with Ukraine-Russia prisoner exchange deal

US thanks Turkey for role in helping with Ukraine-Russia prisoner exchange deal
Ankara helped broker a prison exchange deal between Ukraine and Russia, who are currently embroiled in a war following Moscow's invasion of its neighbour, which saw more than 200 prisoners swapped.
2 min read
24 September, 2022
The White House press secretary, Karine Jean-Pierre, thanked Turkey for its efforts in a press conference in Washington DC [Getty]

The United States thanked Turkey for playing a role in brokering an agreement between Russia and Ukraine which saw hundreds of prisoners released, reported the Turkish Anadolu agency.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre thanked Ankara, as well as Saudi Arabia, for "facilitating the exchange between Russia and Ukraine".

Among those released were two Americans.

"The United States welcomes a negotiated prisoner exchange between Ukraine and Russia," Jean-Pierre told reporters. "We are appreciative of Ukraine including all prisoners regardless of nationality in its negotiations, and we look forward to these US citizens being reunited with their families."

Earlier this week, Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan had announced that Ankara mediated between Moscow and Kyiv in order to reach a prison exchange deal with President Vladimir Putin and Volodymyr Zelensky.

Zelensky subsequently confirmed the exchange of 215 Ukrainian soldiers in a video statement, where he also thanked the Turkish authorities for their role.

On the other hand, Russia confirmed the release of 55 of its soldiers from Ukraine.

Americans Alexander John-Robert Drueke, 39, from Tuscaloosa, Alabama and Andy Tai Ngoc Huynh, 27, of Hartselle, Alabama, who were among the released, were taken prisoner while fighting alongside Ukrainian forces in the northeast Kharkiv region in June.

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Both arrived on home soil on Friday.

While speaking at the UN General Assembly in New York on Thursday, President Erdogan called the prisoner swap deal "an important step" towards ending the conflict in the eastern European country, as quoted by Turkish broadcaster NTV.

Five of those freed arrived in Turkey where they will remain until the end of the war, which Russia has waged since it invaded its neighbour in February this year.

Turkey, which has ties with both Kyiv and Moscow, said it would continue its efforts for "peace and stability in the future", reported Reuters.