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An American man detained by Russian forces after attempting to escape Ukraine with his wife and mother-in-law has been rescued with the help of Florida-based veterans group Project Dynamo.
Michigan native Kirillo Alexandrov, 27, spent more than a month in Russian custody on charges of espionage after he and his family tried to flee their home outside of Kherson in southern Ukraine in late March.
Alexandrov, who was interrogated by Russian soldiers during his detainment, is now a free man after arriving in Poland Wednesday and appeared visibly weary as he described his rescue as “monumental.”
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“I want everybody to go home to their families,” he told Fox News from Poland. “A lot of those Russians won’t get to, a lot of those Ukrainians won’t get to.”
Officials believed Alexandrov was going to be transferred to Moscow after being falsely accused of a dozen criminal charges relating to espionage and spying for the U.S. government – where he could face prison time of up to 20 years.
“This operation was without a doubt the hardest thing that we’ve ever done,” Bryan Stern, who heads up Project Dynamo, told Fox News once in Poland.
“Basically this was jailbreak without a jailbreak,” Stern said. “From pretty terrible people who are war criminals, bottom line.”
Details of the evacuation were scarce, but Stern said it took a team of people spread across the U.S., Poland, Ukraine and Romania to get this rescue done.
The veteran, who helped clear rubble from the World Trade Center following 9/11 before serving in Afghanistan, said it was one of the “most challenging” tasks he has faced in his 20-year career.
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Alexandrov was met by his mother, who initiated contact with Project Dynamo, upon entering Poland.
Negotiations with the Russian captors lasted for more than a month before communications stalled and time began to run out, Project Dynamo described in a statement.
The veteran group said it “identified a window of opportunity that they seized leveraging their capabilities to execute the operation.”
It is unclear where exactly Alexandrov was held, but Project Dynamo said it was over 60 miles behind the front lines, in an area controlled by Russian forces and surrounded by land mines.
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When asked what the future holds, Alexandrov said, “I just want to go home. I can’t think an hour ahead. I can’t think a day ahead”.
Project Dynamo has helped facilitate the evacuation of hundreds of people from war-torn Ukraine.