Family members said on Wednesday that two US nationals who went to Ukraine as volunteer fighters against the Russian military were missing for a week and were feared to be caught.
Alexander Drucke, 39, of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and Andy Huin, 27, of Hartsell, Alabama, were in contact with their families on June 8 and had not returned from a mission around eastern Ukraine’s Kharkiv region.
The families and a US State Department spokesman said reports that Russia would hold the two prisoners of war had not been confirmed.
“At this point we officially know from the State Department that Andy and Alex are missing,” Andy’s fiancé Joy Black said over the phone.
“We don’t have confirmation of anything beyond that. Obviously, the longer the search, the more we start looking at other scenarios,” he said.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said the US had not contacted Russia regarding reports of American fighters.
“I don’t have that information, I check every day, and I’ll investigate today,” Zakharova was quoted as saying by the RIA news agency. Make all information public.”
Russia’s defense ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
If the couple are captured, they will be the first confirmed US citizens to have been taken as prisoners of war in the conflict that began on February 24, when Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an invasion of their neighbor.
White House national security spokesman John Kirby said the United States would “do everything we can” to get them back if the reports are accurate.
Last week, two British nationals and a Moroccan were sentenced to death by a separatist court in the unrecognized Russian-speaking Donetsk People’s Republic after being captured fighting for Ukraine.
Alexander’s mother, Lois Drucke, said she was in contact with the US embassy for Ukraine in Poland, which was looking for the couple.
Both men had told their families on June 8 that they would go offline for a few days, but did not give details for fear of disrupting their communication.
Drucke made two tours in Iraq, the last in Baghdad in 2008-09 as a key gunner, his mother said. Hyunh is a former US Marine who left the service in 2018, his fiancee said.
He said the men did not know each other before meeting in Ukraine, but were forced to support the government after seeing photos of civilian casualties following Russia’s retreat from cities outside Kyiv in late March. felt it.
“When Andy saw this footage coming out of Ukraine, he said he couldn’t sleep, couldn’t eat, was just consumed by the horrors these innocent civilians were going through,” Black said.
Russia has denied attacking civilians and accused Western civilians of acting as “mercenaries”, saying Western support for Kyiv was dragging the conflict and leading to more casualties. Used to be.
“Certainly as a mother I didn’t want my child to be harmed,” said Lois Drucke. “But I knew it was really important to Alex, he wanted his life to have a purpose and he felt it was good and great.”
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