A U.S.-based nonprofit organization that successfully launched rescue operations in Afghanistan saved an American and his Ukrainian family who had been held by Russian forces, the group said.
Project Dynamo announced Tuesday it had successfully rescued Michigan native Kirillo Alexandrov and his family. He was living with his Ukrainian wife and mother-in-law in a town near Kherson when Russian forces invaded and arrested him for being a spy.
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“In late March, while Alexandrov was attempting to evacuate with his family, Russian forces arrested him and fabricated nearly a dozen criminal charges against him centered on espionage and other charges related to allegedly spying for the U.S. government,” Project Dynamo explained in a statement. “Since then, Russian forces have interrogated and detained Alexandrov as a hostage for more than a month, with the intention of sending him to Moscow.”
The Russian military had deported roughly half a million people from Ukraine to Russia, according to an Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe report from mid-April that found the Russian military had engaged in "patterns" of behavior amounting to violations of international law.
Alexandrov’s mother contracted the group, which then informed the U.S. government.
He was being held more than 60 miles behind the front lines when Project Dynamo launched “a ground option through the highly-dangerous and fragile contested areas between Ukrainian and Russian checkpoints operating in Russian controlled Kherson Oblast,” the group said.
“We’ve had more than a dozen team members from Project DYNAMO spread out across Poland, Ukraine, Romania, and the U.S. developing an array of plans from airborne operations in Russia to maritime extraction options within Ukraine,” Bryan Stern, co-founder of Project Dynamo and a combat veteran of the U.S. Army and Navy who led the rescue mission, said in a statement.
“Nothing was off the table, and countless hours were spent navigating the murky world of international security services and diplomacy between two countries at war, all with a young American in the middle," he added. "We knew we had to do everything possible to get him out of captivity before he was illegally moved to Moscow. The bottom line is that our team stepped up, we got creative, and we never gave up on this young American or his family. This is a win for this family and America and a strong reminder to Russia that we will not leave our people behind.”
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Project Dynamo has rescued more than 600 people in over 50 missions in Ukraine.
"We are aware of these reports," a spokesperson for the State Department told the Washington Examiner. "Due to privacy considerations, we have no further comment." However, a senior defense official told reporters Tuesday that the "short answer to that one is no. We don't have anything on that."