Seven Russian airmen escaped from a year’s captivity in Afghanistan on August 16, flying their own Ilyushin-76 cargo plane from a Taliban rebel stronghold in Kandahar to the United Arab Emirates. While the crew members attributed their escape to careful planning and good fortune, a Russian deputy prime minister intimated on August 18 that behind-the-scenes negotiations involving the U.S. and several countries in the region may have played a role in the crew’s good fortune. A U.S. senator, who met with the Russian hostages and their captors on August 12, also claimed to have contributed to the escape. (Reuter, UPI, August 18)
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