2 US Fighters Feared Captured by Russia

They reportedly vanished while fighting near the Ukraine-Russia border on June 9
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 16, 2022 7:31 AM CDT
2 US Fighters Feared Captured by Russia
Ukrainian servicemen gather next a Russian BMP-2, an infantry combat vehicle, in the Kharkiv area, eastern Ukraine, May 29, 2022.   (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)

(Newser) – Two US military veterans from Alabama are thought to be the first Americans captured by Russia while fighting for Ukraine. Alexander Drueke, 39, from Tuscaloosa, formerly of the US Army, and Andy Tai Ngoc Huynh, 27, from Hartselle, formerly of the Marine Corps, volunteered to assist in the war effort but are now missing and feared to have been taken prisoner, according to family members, who are in contact with US congressional offices and the US Embassy in Ukraine, per the Guardian and Washington Post. "If it's true, we'll do everything we can to get them safely back home," says John Kirby, National Security Council coordinator for strategic communications.

Family members tell CNN that the men haven't been heard from since June 8, when they said they would be spending a few days on a mission. Another fighter, who provided CNN with photos of the men's passports and entry stamps into Ukraine, said both vanished during a battle near the town of Izbytske, northeast of Kharkiv, on June 9, while under the command of Ukraine's 92nd mechanized brigade. He described the battle as "absolute chaos," with "about a hundred plus infantry advancing on our positions. We had a T72 firing on people from 30, 40 meters away." The man said searches failed to turn up any sign of the men but a Russian propaganda channel on Telegram later claimed "two American mercenaries" had been captured, per the Telegraph.

Drueke's mother, Lois "Bunny" Drueke, said her son told her he would be training Ukrainians on how to use US-made weapons, per the Post. He said "if [Russian President Vladimir] Putin is not stopped there he is not going to be satisfied, he will become emboldened and eventually Americans will be threatened," she told CNN's AC360 on Wednesday, appearing with Huynh's fiancee, Joy Black. Huynh "really had this gnawing at his heart and this big burden on him to go and serve the people however he can," Black said. "I'm still very proud of him. I just want to see him back safely." (Russia has sentenced three foreign nationals to die for fighting on behalf of Ukraine, in what UK officials say is a violation of the Geneva Conventions.)

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