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Wednesday, February 8, 2023

White House confirms US national freed during Russia-Ukraine prisoner swap

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A spokesperson for the US administration confirmed that an American citizen detained by Russia during the Russia-Ukraine conflict was released as Moscow and Kyiv conducted a prisoner swap on Wednesday.

John Kirby, the National Security Council’s coordinator for strategic communications, told reporters during a virtual press gaggle that he could confirm “a US national has been transferred as part of a transfer of prisoners between Russia and Ukraine today.”

Hours before the confirmation from Kirby, Andriy Yermak, chief of staff of Ukraine’s presidential office, said in a post on social media platform Telegram that a prisoner swap between his country and Russia resulted in 64 soldiers of the Ukrainian Armed Forces being returned.

It was also made possible the release of US national Suedi Murekezi, “who was helping our people,” Yermak said, adding that the bodies of four deceased Ukrainian soldiers were also released by Russia as part of the exchange.

Separately, Kirby said at the briefing that he could not confirm recent media reports that the United States has been considering sending Ukraine the Patriot surface-to-air missile system, adding that the US administration is contemplating the next round of security assistance to Ukraine and prioritizing further bolstering Ukraine’s air-defense capabilities.

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