Ukraine announced on Wednesday that it has obtained the release of a U.S. citizen and 64 Ukrainian service men in its most recent prisoner exchange with Russian forces.
"Sixty-four Ukrainian Armed Forces soldiers who battled in Donetsk and Lugansk, including the defense of the city of Bakhmut, are returning home," Ukraine's chief of staff Andriy Yermak announced on social media.
Suedi Murekezi, an American citizen who assisted our people, was also freed.
White House officials verified the release of an American citizen.
"We very much appreciate the news. John Kirby, a spokesperson for the National Security Council of the United States, informed journalists that he could not provide more information about this individual due to privacy concerns.
Murekezi was arrested in the eastern Donetsk region of Ukraine in June and charged with attending anti-Russian protests and promoting "ethnic hate," according to Russia's state-run TASS news agency.
Murekezi was born in Rwanda and relocated to the United States with his family in 1994, according to TASS, which cited his attorney. The attorney stated that Murekezi worked at a nightclub in the city of Kherson and denied that his client was a combatant.
Russian forces conquered the city of Kherson shortly after their February invasion of Ukraine, but Ukrainian forces recaptured it this fall. Since then, it has been vulnerable to frequent Russian shelling.
According to Ukrainian sources, the core of battle since the liberation of Kherson has been in the Donetsk region, where Russian forces have spent months attempting to seize Bakhmut.