Russia on Thursday released a US citizen who had crossed into its enclave of Kaliningrad in the first weeks of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine last February, former US Ambassador to the United Nations Bill Richardson, who met the man at the Polish border. .

US Navy veteran Taylor Dudley, 35, was backpacking in Europe when he crossed the border between Poland and Russia in April, said Jonathan Franks, an attorney representing the families of Americans detained in abroad, in an email to journalists.

Dudley’s circumstances while in Russia were unclear and his case had not been previously published.

The State Department was aware of reports that a US citizen had been deported from Russia, said a spokesman who declined to comment further on the case, citing privacy considerations.

Dudley’s release at the Bagrationovsk-Bezledy border crossing comes as relations between Moscow and Washington remain fractured after Russia’s large-scale invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022.

WNBA star Brittney Griner was released by Russia last month in a trade for Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout after talks between US and Russian officials, but former Marine Paul Whelan remains in a Russian prison camp.

Richardson, a former New Mexico governor and US ambassador to the United Nations who has helped free Americans detained abroad, met Dudley at the border and worked on the case for months, according to attorney Franks and a statement from the Richardson Center for Global Engagement.

«Negotiations and work to ensure Taylor’s safe return were conducted discreetly and with commitment on the ground in both Moscow and Kaliningrad and with the full support of Taylor’s family in the United States,» the Richardson Center said. .

A representative of the US embassy in Warsaw was also present at Dudley’s release, according to Franks, and the Richardson Center thanked US officials, as well as businessman Steve Menzies, for helping to secure Dudley’s return.

A spokesman for the Polish Foreign Ministry declined to comment on the case.

Kaliningrad is a Russian province located between Poland and Lithuania and is the headquarters of the Baltic Fleet of the Russian Navy.