Two United States citizens have been missing for about a week after they journeyed to Ukraine to fight Russia on behalf of the Ukrainian International Legion, relatives said on Wednesday.
Alexander Drueke, 39, of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and Andy Hyunh, 27, of Hartselle, Alabama, are presumed to be in Russian forces’ custody.
Family and friends last heard from the two Alabama men on June 8, Reuters reported.
“What we know officially at this point from the State Department is that Andy and Alex are missing,” Joy Black, Hyunh’s fiancee, told Reuters.
“We do not have confirmation for anything beyond that. Obviously the longer the search goes the more we start to consider other scenarios,” Black added.
Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova of the Russian Foreign Ministry said on Thursday that the U.S. did not contact Russia yet on reports regarding the two men’s capture.
“I don’t have that information, I check every day, and I’ll check today. We make all information about the fate of detained mercenaries or those sentenced to trial public,” Zakharova said, according to the state-run RIA News Agency, Reuters reported.
The last time the two men contacted relatives was on June 8, when they told them they would be offline for a few days.
Drueke and Hyunh did not specify where they were going and when they would speak with their families again.
Russian forces had allegedly captured the duo last week after their 10-man squad encountered a much larger Russian force in Izbytske, north-east of Kharkiv, comrades with the two told British newspaper The Telegraph.
“We were out on a mission and the whole thing went absolutely crazy, with bad intel,” the source said.
“We were told the town was clear, when it turned out the Russians were already assaulting it,” the source continued. “They came down the road with two T72 tanks and multiple BMP3s [armoured fighting vehicles] and about 100 infantry. The only thing that was there was our 10-man squad.”
Drueke and Hyunh were suspected to be knocked unconscious during a battle that followed, either by tank fire or an anti-tank mine.
Ukrainian forces failed to locate signs of the two or their bodies in search missions that followed the encounter.
White House national security spokesman John Kirby said that if reports of the two men’s capture were confirmed, the U.S. “will do everything we can” to extricate them, Radio Free Liberty reported.
If confirmed, Drueke and Hyunh would be the first Americans captured in Ukraine as prisoners of war by Russia or its proxies.
News of the two men’s presumed capture by Russian troops comes after Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine sentenced two Britons and one Moroccan man captured in Mariupol, Ukraine, to death.
The Russian-backed separatist Donetsk People’s Republic found the three guilty of “mercenary activities and committing actions aimed at seizing power and overthrowing the constitutional order,” Russian media reported, according to Reuters.
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