Zelensky says Ukraine doing everything it can to secure release of American soldiers detained by Russia: report

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Friday told NBC News that Ukraine is doing everything it can to secure freedom for two Americans who were captured while fighting Russian forces.

NBC News chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel said in an appearance on “Today” that he met with Zelensky in his office in Kyiv and asked what he is doing to help the American soldiers who answered his call for non-Ukrainians to volunteer to defend to country. Engel reported that Zelensky said he views securing their freedom as a “high priority” along with his efforts to secure the release of captured Ukrainians.

A spokesperson for Russian President Vladimir Putin would not guarantee to NBC that the two captured Americans would not face the death penalty earlier this week. Two British citizens and one Moroccan citizen were sentenced to death by Russia-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine earlier this month.

Engel reported that Zelensky said he believes the Americans will be freed and Russia is using them and other foreign nationals to pressure foreign governments to speak with Moscow.

Zelensky’s comments come as Ukraine withdraws its troops from the eastern city of Severodonetsk, one of the last remaining strongholds in the Donbas region, as casualties mount. Russia turned its attention to capturing the Luhansk and Donetsk provinces in the Donbas after its efforts to capture Kyiv faced stiff opposition from Ukrainian forces.

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