Two American citizens, who volunteered to fight with pro-Ukraine rebel groups in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine, were captured by separatists from the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR), according to Russian state media. US citizens Alexander John-Robert Drueke, 39, from Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and Andy Tai Ngoc Huynh, 27, from Hartselle, Alabama, were interviewed by Russia’s RT channel at a detention center in the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) on Friday.
Missing near Kharkiv:
The two American servicemen went missing on June 9 in the middle of a battle between forces at and south of Kharkiv, and their families and fellow fighter feared they had been captured and captured by the Russians, according to their families and fellow soldier.
Short video clips appeared with what seemed to be Russian forces over the weekend, and short clips of these went viral on anonymous pro-Russia social media channels. At the time, they remained unclear whether the men detained in this fashion were on Russian or Ukrainian territory. A State Department official told the Los Angeles Times that Friday, “We have seen the videos of these two US citizens reportedly captured by Russia’s military forces in Ukraine.”
Our thoughts and prayers are with the families affected by this difficult time and their loved ones. We are in contact with the Ukrainian government and the international Red Cross, as well as the affected families, and are working with their permission to provide privacy. We apologize for any confusion resulting from this behind-the-scenes statement.
A more than 50-minute edited video of Drueke and Huynh being interviewed by HelmCast, a pro-Russian Serbian nationalist YouTube channel, was separately published on Saturday.
A man can be captured on camera during the recording of a conversation between the interviewer and said gentleman when he says, “I give you my answer now!” in the recording of a question at Drueke.
Beaten while in detention
Drueke is also questioned in the interview to see if he has any objections to how he’s been treated since his capture, and he reveals that he has been beaten several times.
Why their location is significant
Drueke and Huynh’s detention is possibly an anxious story. Russia has a moratorium on the death penalty, whereas Donetsk uses firing squads to execute sentenced inmates, as reported by Russian state media RIA Novosti.
On June 9, a court in the Donetsk People’s Republic sentenced foreign fighters, two British citizens, and a Moroccan citizen to death after accusing them of being mercenaries for Ukraine. The internationally unrecognized court in the Donetsk People’s Republic said the men had a month to appeal.
Prisoner swap dashed
Hopes a prisoner exchange between Ukraine and the pro-Russian separatists in Donetsk would free detained Russian fighters were dashed, as Denis Pushilin, the self-proclaimed leader of the DPR, ruled out such an exchange, citing it would violate Ukraine’s sovereignty.
“The exchange of the British men sentenced to death in the DPR is not under discussion, there are no grounds for pardoning them,” Pushilin told independent Russian investigative reporting publication Novaya Gazeta on Thursday. The Donetsk People’s Republic did not respond to requests for comment on their detention of Drueke and Huynh.