RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Wednesday held successful mediation sessions to release ten prisoners from various countries as part of a prisoner exchange process between Russia and Ukraine.
The Kingdom’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement the move was based on the support of Prince Mohammed and in continuation of his efforts to adopt humanitarian initiatives toward the Russian-Ukrainian crisis.
The Saudi crown prince, who has continuously worked with global countries to mitigate the repercussions of the war, held successful mediations in releasing prisoners from Morocco, the US, UK, Sweden, and Croatia, where their release was part of a prisoner exchange between Russia and Ukraine, it added.
“The relevant Saudi authorities received and transferred them from Russia to the Kingdom, and are facilitating procedures for their safe return to their respective countries,” the ministry added.
The ministry also expressed thanks and appreciation that the Russian and Ukrainian governments were able to cooperate with the Saudi government in facilitating and responding to the Saudi crown prince’s efforts to release the prisoners.
British Prime Minister Liz Truss welcomed the release and transfer to Riyadh of five UK prisoners.
The prime minister, who is in New York, 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.”
She thanked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and Saudi Arabia for helping free the detainees.
Newly-appointed British foreign minister James Cleverly said he welcomed the safe return of Ukrainian prisoners of war and one civilian, including 5 British nationals, and said: “I’d like to express my gratitude to President Zelensky and HRH Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammed bin Salman for their efforts and assistance.”
Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde also said on Twitter that the Swedish citizen, held in Donetsk, “has now been detained and is well”. She, too, thanked Ukraine and Saudi Arabia.
British MP Robert Jenrick said Twitter that one of the British detainees, Aiden Aslin, was one of his constituents — Aslin had been sentenced to death in June after being captured by pro-Russian separatists.
Jenrick said the British detainees were “on their way back to the UK” and that Aslin’s family “could finally be at peace.”
Ukraine has launched a counteroffensive and recaptured land taken by Russia in northeast and southern Ukraine in the past week, including the towns of Izyum and Kupiansk and around Kharkiv.
On Wednesday, Russian president Vladimir Putin ordered a partial mobilization, with Russia’s Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu saying 300,000 reservists would be called up to protect what the Kremlin claims are its lands.
On Tuesday, Prince Mohammed met with a special envoy of Zelensky, during which he “affirmed the Kingdom’s keenness and support for all international efforts aimed at resolving the crisis politically and its continuation of its efforts to contribute to alleviating the humanitarian effects resulting from it.”