Tampa-based ‘Project Dynamo’ unites parents with newborns evacuated from Russia

Project Dynamo rescued the two infants from Russia.
Project Dynamo rescued the two infants from Russia.(Project Dynamo)
Published: Nov. 23, 2022 at 12:48 PM EST
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TAMPA, Fla. (WWSB) - Just in time for Thanksgiving, a family in Texas have been united with their adopted twin newborn babies who were stranded in Russia. The twins were in a Russian orphanage after being delivered by a Ukrainian surrogate.

The surrogate lived in Donbass, eastern Ukraine, which is one of the most heavily afflicted regions in the conflict between the two nations. The surrogate mother fled the violence to Crimea, and then made her way to St. Petersburg, Russia, where she gave birth to the twins, a boy and a girl, in early September. The twins were discharged from the hospital and sent to a Russian state-run orphanage with risk of being adopted to a Russian family.

The couple enlisted the help of Tampa-based rescue group Project DYNAMO, a veteran-led group who extracts American citizens out of areas like Afghanistan and Ukraine. ABC7 has interviewed the group before during a previous rescue in which they managed to evacuate a pair of premature babies who were trapped at a hospital in Ukraine as Russia shelled the city of Kyiv. They extricated the pair in an ambulance to a hospital in neighboring Poland.

The children were U.S. citizens but could not be evacuated safely.

The U.S. State Department and other entities were supportive, but due to a myriad of reasons, they could not safely retrieve the babies. After months of desperate attempts to bring their children home, the parents contacted Project DYNAMO at the suggestion of a friend within the U.S. diplomatic corps.

About a week after making contact with the parents, Project DYNAMO founder Bryan Stern flew to Estonia, traveling to the Russian border town of Narva. There, Project DYNAMO devised a plan, built human and physical infrastructure, organized the logistics, set the conditions for the operation, and executed the mission successfully.

The mission took about a week to setup and was completed in one day.

“Once again, the Project DYNAMO team came through when others could not,” said Stern. “I’m always proud of my team, but I’m especially proud of them after completing our first mission inside of Russia. Had we not rescued the twins, who knows what their fate and future would be or if their parents would have ever met them. I’d like to express my deep appreciation to United States Embassy Moscow Consular Services, as well as U.S. Embassy Tallinn Consular.”

The parents of the children, who asked not to be named for privacy purposes, are grateful to be bringing their children home during this holiday season.