An American and Navy veteran detained in Russia since April was released Thursday, his family said in a statement.
Taylor Dudley, 35, was backpacking in Europe when he crossed the border from Poland into Russia and was taken into custody. On Thursday he was released at the Polish border to former New Mexico governor Bill Richardson and a representative of the U.S. Embassy in Warsaw, family spokesman Jonathan Franks said in a statement.
“The Richardson Center worked … diligently and quietly for more than 6 months with significant assistance from the Steve Menzies Global Foundation, from Hostage U.S., and from the James Foley Foundation,” the statement said. “The family will be forever grateful for the work of all three.”
Richardson said in a statement that he continues to work for the release of Paul Whelan, a former U.S. Marine detained in Russia four years ago. Whelan was convicted of espionage in 2020 and sentenced to 16 years in prison.
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►Russian forces probably will try to capture all of Donetsk soon, Ukrainian General Staff Deputy Chief Oleksii Hromov said. “The enemy’s main goal remains the seizure of our country’s entire territory and the destruction of Ukraine’s statehood,” Hromov said.
►Two civilians were killed and eight wounded in Russian attacks Wednesday, Ukraine’s presidential office said Thursday.
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Game changer? Ukraine could soon get Western tanks
A crucial decision on whether the West will provide Ukraine with modern tanks could come within days after Poland’s president said he was ready to send a company of 14 German-made Leopard tanks.
Polish President Andrzej Duda, on a visit to the Ukrainian city of Lviv, said the move would be possible if an international coalition supported the effort. Ukraine now relies on aging Soviet-made tanks.
“There are very positive signals,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said. “I think it will happen.”
The U.S., Germany and other Western supporters of Ukraine have balked at providing the tanks, concerned that doing so would mark an escalation in the war. But earlier this week, Britain said it was considering a plan to send Challenger II tanks. Ukraine also seeks U.S.-made Abrams tanks. Last week, the Biden administration agreed to send 50 Bradley infantry fighting vehicles to its embattled ally.
“One state cannot help us with Leopards because we are fighting against thousands of tanks of the Russian Federation,” Zelenskyy said. “Our people have already shown that they are stronger even than Russian tanks.”
Russia paying high price for push to take Soledar
Russia said Thursday that its forces were close to capturing the strategic Donetsk region town of Soledar. But more than 100 Russian troops were killed in the battle for Soledar over the past 24 hours alone, Ukraine’s Donetsk Gov. Pavlo Kyrylenko said in televised remarks late Wednesday.
“The Russians have literally marched on the bodies of their own soldiers, burning everything on their way,” Kyrylenko said.
Andrey Bayevsky, militia colonel in the Russian-recognized Donetsk People’s Republic, said claiming Soledar would allow the Russian military to focus troops and weaponry on Bakhmut as the Kremlin presses its effort to control the region.
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Contributing: The Associated Press