Two U.S. military veterans volunteering in Ukraine are reported missing

Two U.S. veterans volunteered join the effort against Russia on Ukraine Reportedly missing from their families.

Alabama residents Alex Drueke and Andy Tai Ngoc Huynh have not been heard from since last week, families said Wednesday, and relatives said they were worried about what would happen to the duo.

Ned Price, a State Department spokesman, said Thursday there were reports of a possible third American citizen missing while fighting in the country.

“I can’t say the details of that case,” Price said in a nutshell. “Unfortunately, we don’t know the full details of that case.”

Drueke, 39, a former U.S. Army service member from Tuscaloosa who served on two tours in Iraq, his family told NBC News.

Her mother, Lois, said she received a phone call Monday from one of her friends, who told her that the mission had gone bad and that the two men, including her son, had not returned.

Alex Drueke.
Alex Drueke. Facebook

She said that in their most recent communication on Wednesday, her son wrote to her that she would be “dark” for a few days. She wrote back: “Stay safe. And I love you,” to which she replied: “I love you too,” she said, holding back tears. She hadn’t heard from him since.

Lois Drueke said her son was not in Ukraine to fight, but he was there in a greater capacity to counsel as a “civilian with military training,” so he did not know why he was included in the mission.

“When he saw what was happening in Ukraine, he said,‘ Mom, I have to go and help train the soldiers so that Putin doesn’t get the confidence that he can just go around Ukraine and other countries, because for in the end he will be defeated. face us, ‘”he said.

“‘And I feel that if we can stop him in Ukraine, then I’m helping to keep Americans safe,'” Lois Drueke recalled her son speaking about Russian President Vladimir Putin.

He said he feared the couple would be arrested but said it had not been confirmed. NBC News reached out to the Kremlin, as well as Russian defense and foreign ministers for comment.

Russian Foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Thursday that Washington has not yet contacted the ministry in connection with media reports about “two American mercenaries detained in the suburbs of Kharkiv,” the state news agency said. the Ria reported.

Lois Drueke said the family did not know if Drueke had been captured, and it is possible that he and Huynh were “still out there avoiding the enemy.” The possibility that he is in Russian custody worries him, he said, but he knows that Ukraine and the U.S. government are actively looking for the pair.

“When the worst comes to the worst, I know he’s doing something he really believes is good and noble,” he said, his voice broken again.

U.S. officials are in contact with the Ukrainian government as well as other non-governmental organizations in the region as they monitor the situation, Price said. There is no information that the missing Americans are in Russian custody, Price said.

“At the moment, we’re seeing open press reports, the same reports you’ve all seen, but we don’t have independent confirmation of where they are,” Price said.

Rep. Terri A. Sewell, D-Ala., tweet Late Wednesday Drueke’s mother went to his office after losing contact with his son, and that they were doing “everything in our power to help locate him and find answers for his family. “

Meanwhile, Huynh’s family reached out to Rep. Robert Aderholt, R-Ala., He said in a statement on Wednesday. Aderholt said the family told him they had not spoken to Huynh since June 8 when he was in the area of ​​the town of Kharkiv in northeastern Ukraine. He said Huynh, 27, volunteered to fight the Ukrainian army against Russia. “As you can imagine, his loved ones were very worried about him,” Aderholt said.

Andy Huynh.
Andy Huynh.Facebook

Huynh is from Orange County, California, but recently lived in the Alabama community of Hartselle and is already married, her fiancé’s brother, Zachary Polk, said.

“He put him online,” Polk said. “She is from California. He was a U.S. Marine trainer. He came here to Alabama, and joined our church, and met my sister after he left. ”

“He felt he needed to help them, so he went there to see what help he could give,” Polk said.

Darla Joy Black, the mother of Huynh’s bride, posted on Facebook that the couple was anonymous.

“No other official has been confirmed,” he said. “Please keep Andy, and Alex, and all their loved ones in a life of prayer. We just want them to come home. ”

National Security Council spokesman John Kirby wednesday said he could not confirm reports of the two missing Americans. He reiterated that the United States prevented Americans from going to Ukraine and fighting there.

“It’s a war zone,” he said. “It’s a battle. And if you feel motivated about supporting Ukraine, there are many other ways to do that, which are much safer and just as effective. Ukraine is not the place for Americans to travel. ”

Joe Cirincione, prominent fellow at the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft in Washington, DC, told NBC News that Americans want to help Ukraine, either by fighting or helping train its soldiers on how to use the weapons provided by the US, must be allowed to go. However, he added, the incident highlights the risks created when they do.

“I am afraid to use them as pawns by the Russians today in their attempt to try the U.S. and the west to back down from sanctions. Any release of these Americans will undoubtedly condition the American loosening of sanctions on Russia. , “Cirincione said.

On Wednesday, a State Department spokesman said he was aware of reports of two U.S. citizens being arrested in Ukraine and was closely monitoring the situation.

U.S. officials have contacted Ukrainian authorities, the spokesman said, declining to comment further, citing privacy considerations.

Early in the war Ukraine called for trained fighters from around the world to volunteer and join its foreign legion.

Last week, two British citizens and a Moroccan, who were marked by Russian officials as “mercenaries,” sentenced to death of pro-Moscow separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine.

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