In a message posted on Telegram on September 22, President Volodymyr Zelensky thanked President Erdogan for “leading” the negotiation process that secured the release of numerous individuals captured by Russia.

In the post, Zelensky said he appreciated “the contribution of everyone involved in rescuing the defenders,”and extended his thanks to “President of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, for leading this process.”

“Also, as a sign of gratitude for the help to our country, Ukraine freed from Russian captivity five citizens of Great Britain, two citizens of the USA, citizens of Morocco, Sweden, and Croatia,” Zelensky added.

“Thank you for your support, Saudi Arabia. We remember all those who are in Russian captivity, and we will do everything for their rescue.”


Among those released were British citizens Aiden Aslin, John Harding, Dylan Healy, Andrew Hill, and Shaun Pinner.

On Thursday afternoon, British news outlets reported that Aslin had arrived home in the United Kingdom and had been reunited with his family. Speaking to reporters outside his parent’s home, Aslin thanked Zelenksky and the Saudi authorities for his release.

Shaun Pinner has also been reunited with his family following the prisoner swap, and was photographed smiling with his mother, father, and siblings.

The exchange also saw 55 Russian servicemen arriving back in Russia. “All servicemen have been delivered to the territory of the Russian Federation by military transport aircraft and are in medical institutions of Russia’s defense ministry,” the Kremlin department said in a statement.

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The attack killed five children, including two babies less than a year old, according to statements by Zelensky and the regional governor.

Meanwhile, British Prime Minister Liz Truss tweeted: “Hugely welcome news that five British nationals held by Russian-backed proxies in eastern Ukraine are being safely returned, ending months of uncertainty and suffering for them and their families.”

“I thank President Zelensky for his efforts to secure the release of detainees, and Saudi Arabia for their assistance. Russia must end the ruthless exploitation of prisoners of war and civilian detainees for political ends.”

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