American Suedi Murekezi freed by Russians; White House says ‘no indication’ war will end soon: Updates
Written by B87FM on December 15, 2022
A U.S. national and dozens of Ukrainian soldiers were release in the latest prisoner swap between Kyiv and Moscow, authorities announced Wednesday.
Suedi Murekezi, a U.S. Air Force veteran, told ABC News he had been subject to electric shocks and had been beaten by his captors before being released from prison in October. Though technically free, he had remained trapped in a Russian-controlled area of the embattled Donetsk region of Ukraine until Wednesday’s exchange.
Murekezi said the Russians accused him of being a member of the CIA and that while in prison he and other Americans were given only minimal food and water. Asked what he was looking forward to most when he gets back to his home in Minnesota, he said “a peanut butter sandwich.”
Two other U.S. military veterans, Alabama residents Alexander Drueke and Andy Tai Huynh, were freed in a prisoner exchange in September. They returned to tell of “intensive interrogation” at the hands of Russian soldiers. Drueke said the treatment was brutal.
“Every one of our human rights were violated,” he said. “We were tortured.”
►White House spokesman John Kirby, speaking at a briefing Wednesday, said the Biden administration has “no expectation that the fighting will stop in the winter months to come. No indications, certainly no expectations, that by year’s end there will be an end of war. … None of the indicators are pointing in that direction.”
►The International Atomic Energy Agency said it approved a Ukraine proposal to establish a “continuous presence of nuclear safety and security experts” at all of the country’s nuclear power plants.
►Ukrainian authorities said they thwarted a Russian attack on Kyiv by intercepting and destroying 13 explosive-laden drones. The wreckage from some of the drones damaged five buildings.
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Pentagon considers sending Patriot antimissile systems to Ukraine
The Pentagon is considering plans to send Patriot antimissile batteries to Ukraine amid the bombardment of cities by Russian missiles and drones, according to a senior U.S. official. The mobile Patriot missile system is one of the most advanced in the U.S. arsenal and can shoot down aircraft or ballistic missiles in all weather conditions. A Patriot battery has up to eight launchers, each of which hold four missiles, according to the Army. About 90 soldiers are assigned to a battery, but just three are needed to operate them in combat.
Ukraine is desperate for air defense systems to counter the barrage of Russian missiles and drones aimed at power stations and other civilian targets. U.S. officials credit Ukraine’s ingenuity with older, Soviet-era air defense systems for denying Russia the ability to gain control of Ukrainian airspace.
On Wednesday, White House spokesman John Kirby said he could not confirm that a deal for the systems had been reached. A day earlier, Air Force Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder declined to confirm that Patriots were being considered for Ukraine but acknowledged discussions were underway to provide Ukraine with the ability to defend itself against Russian attacks.
Patriot batteries are in high demand around the world and require extensive training to operate.
Ukraine claims to find room where Russians tortured children
A room where Russian occupiers allegedly were “torturing children” has been found in Kherson, a Ukrainian city abandoned by Russian troops last month, Ukraine’s commissioner for human rights said Wednesday.
“According to the testimony of people who were held there, Ukrainian children were in this room,” Dmytro Lubinets told the media outlet Hromadske. “The occupiers themselves called it a ‘children’s cell.'”
He said authorities have established that the Russians gave the children water every other day and “practically did not feed them.” He said children were subjected to psychological pressure, including being told their parents had abandoned them.
Contributing: Joey Garrison, USA TODAY; The Associated Press