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An American held behind enemy lines accused of war crimes and espionage has been rescued after being held by Russian forces for more than a month as he tried to flee Ukraine.
Project Dynamo co-founder Bryan Stern, who helped facilitate Kirillo Alexandrov’s safe return, explained why it was the toughest rescue yet Thursday on “Fox & Friends First.”
“We’ve done all kinds of difficult and complex things throughout our existence,” Stern told co-host Carley Shimkus. “But this is our first…accused American citizen victim of war crimes, falsely accused of espionage in captivity, rescue that we have ever done.”
“So when you try to say all of that, it’s a mouthful in itself,” he continued. “It just leads to the complexity of the operation, which… it was a win, but it was a hard-fought win. Nothing about it was easy at all.”
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Alexandrov, a Michigan native, was captured by Russian forces as he attempted to flee his home with his family near Kherson, Ukraine. He was detained in Russia for nearly 40 days before being reunited with his family in Poland on Wednesday.
“When he was at his lowest, it was disgusting,” Alexandrov said. “I faced violence, a mock execution. My wife faced violence and every day was a threat to my family, to my village.”
“It was just terrifying,” he continued. “The uncertainty was terrible.”
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Stern said US negotiators had two lines of effort to secure his release. One was a “unilateral bailout” and the other was negotiations with Russian officials.
“They were angry and surprised,” Stern said. “We had two parallel lines of effort at the same time. One was the negotiation for a release and the other was a unilateral rescue. We finally did the unilateral action.”
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“They actually called us about five hours after we already had him to continue negotiations,” he continued. “They didn’t even know.”
Project Dynamo, a Florida-based veterans group, helped facilitate the evacuation of hundreds of people from Ukraine.