The White House on Friday thanked Saudi Arabia’s killer crown prince Mohammed bin Salman after he helped negotiate the release of two Americans detained by pro-Russia separatists in Ukraine.
“The United States welcomes the negotiated exchange between Ukraine and Russia, which includes the two US citizens [who were] captured while serving in Ukraine’s military,” press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said at her regular briefing.
“We also thank the crown prince and the government of Saudi Arabia and the Turkish government for facilitating the exchange of prisoners between Ukraine and Russia.”
Alexander Drueke, 39, and Andy Huynh, 27, were captured in June in Ukraine’s Kharkiv province. They were released as part of a broader prisoner exchange between the Kremlin and the pro-Western government of Ukraine.
President Biden visited Saudi Arabia in July in an attempt to smooth over relations with bin Salman to tame high gas prices. But the prince proceeded to humiliate Biden by only marginally increasing output.
The gas-price spike subsequently subsided instead due to a demand-driven decline in prices.
Biden had sought to sideline the 37-year-old prince, who is the de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia, over human rights abuses including his role in the 2018 murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi.
Biden claimed that he privately accused the prince of ordering Khashoggi’s murder shortly after giving him a fist-bump in July. But Saudi minister of state for foreign affairs Adel al-Jubeir said he didn’t hear Biden do so. The US president, returning to the White House, accused al-Jubeir of lying.