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U.S. man detained by Russians forces while fleeing Ukrainian city is released

A Minnesota man who was detained by Russian forces while trying to flee the Ukrainian city of Kherson and held for 10 days has been released, U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar said Friday.

Tyler Jacob, 28, who was living in Ukraine, was taken by Russian forces around two weeks ago, her office said in a statement.

“I am relieved that Tyler is safely reunited with his wife and daughter. Over the last two weeks, my team and I have been in close contact with his family, the State Department, and the U.S. embassy in Moscow working towards this outcome, and I am grateful that we were able to help bring him to safety,” Klobuchar, D-Minnesota, said in a statement.

Tina Hauser and her son, Tyler Jacob.Courtesy Tina Hauser

Jacob’s mother, Tina Hauser, said on MSNBC earlier this month that her son’s wife was told he was taken from a bus at a checkpoint in Russian-controlled Crimea.

Hauser has said that Jacob moved to Ukraine last year with his then-girlfriend to teach English, and that the couple married in January.

Kherson, a large, strategically important city two hours north of Crimea, fell to Russian forces earlier this month.

On Friday a senior U.S. defense official said that it now appears that Kherson is contested and Ukrainian forces have launched a counter-attack.

“We can’t corroborate exactly who is in control of Kherson but the point is it doesn’t appear to be as solidly in Russian control as it was before. The Ukrainians are trying to take Kherson back,” the U.S. official said. “We would argue that Kherson is actually contested territory again.” 

Russia attacked and invaded Ukraine a month ago, in what the U.S. and other Western nations have condemned as an unprovoked and unjustifiable assault.

The mayor of Kherson said in early March that the city was occupied by Russian forces. It was the first major city to come under Russian control.

In the statement released by Klobuchar’s office, Hauser said the ordeal has been a harrowing one, but she was ecstatic her son was released.

“This was a parent’s worst nightmare, but I can rest easy tonight knowing my son has made it to safety,” she said.

Jacob’s father, John Quinn, called it “the most terrorizing experience as a parent.” He said his heart was with the many families still in Ukraine.

Klobuchar’s office said that Tyler Jacob was detained and held in Russia for 10 days. The senator called his detention unjust.

A State Department spokesperson said the department was aware of the reports, but had no further comment due to privacy considerations.

Another U.S. citizen with Minnesota ties, Jim Hill, was killed in the Ukrainian city of Chernihiv, his family has told NBC affiliate KARE of Minneapolis.

Hill, who was born in Minneapolis but lived in Idaho, had been living in Kyiv but was in Chernihiv seeking treatment for his partner, who has multiple sclerosis, his family told the station.

There have been reports of thousands of civilians killed in Ukraine since Russia attacked. Russia has denied targeting civilians.

The United Nations’ human rights office has recorded more than 1,000 civilians killed, but it says the real number of casualties is higher because fighting has delayed many reports and other reports are still corroborated.

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