Russia released ten foreign mercenaries who were fighting in Ukraine after successful mediation efforts by Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the Kingdom Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced on September 21.
In a statement shared by the Saudi Press Agency, the ministry said that a plane carrying the ten mercenaries arrived from Russia to Riyadh.
The mercenaries, five British citizens, one Moroccan, one Swede, one Croat, and two Americans, were captured by the Russian military and its allies in the area of the special operation in Ukraine. The Saudi Crown Prince had been in direct contact with the Russia and Ukraine as a part of the mediation efforts for their release.
“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs expresses the gratitude and appreciation of the Government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to the Russian Federation and to Ukraine for their response to the efforts made by the Crown Prince for the release of the POWs [Prisoners of War],” the ministry said in its statement.
Following the announcement, the Saudi Al Arabiya TV revealed ongoing efforts to secure a prisoner swap of 50 Ukrainians in exchange for 200 Russians. The upcoming swap will reportedly include Viktor Medvedchuk. The Ukrainian politician and businessman, who hold views close to Russia, was arrested by Kiev authorities in April.
The Russian military and its allies have captured thousands of Kiev troops and many foreign mercenaries since the start of the special operation in Ukraine.
The decision to release the ten mercenaries came just hours after the announcement of a partial mobilization in Russia meant to support the still-ongoing operation. Moscow, which is bracing for a decisive battle in Ukraine, appears to be still open to diplomacy.
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