It is being reported that the Russians have captured two Americans, former US servicemen who have been fighting as volunteers in the Armed Forces of Ukraine. This story was broken by The Telegraph.
The two former US servicemen, Alexander Drueke and Andy Huynh headed to Ukraine to be volunteers to fight against the Russians. They were later assigned to the 92 Mechanized Infantry Regiment, a regular Ukrainian army unit. According to the report by The Telegraph, the two US veterans were captured while fighting near Kharkiv in the northeast.
Alexander Drueke, 39, is reportedly from Tuscaloosa, Alabama. He signed up with the US Army after the 9/11 attacks. Drueke served in Iraq as a Staff Sergeant. His mother confirmed that he was a top gunner escorting VIPs in Baghdad and had been suffering from PTSD ever since. He did try a career as a policeman, but it did not pan out as his PTSD worsened.
“Alex felt strongly that Mr. Putin needed to be stopped. It would lead to another world war,” Drueke’s mother said. “He said that [he] knew how to train people and could do his small part.”
Huynh, on the other hand, is a Vietnamese-American veteran originally from California but relocated to the Tennessee Valley, where he studied robotics in college. He served with the US Marines for four years but reportedly had no combat experience before serving in Ukraine as a volunteer.
According to an unnamed source who fought alongside Drueke and Huynh, they had been fighting with a far larger Russian force in the village of Izbytske some 30 miles northeast of Kharkiv. Notably, this village is just 5 miles from the nearest Russian border.
They reportedly received intel claiming that the town was clear. However, when they got there, the Russians were assaulting the area as they saw two T-72 tanks and some 100 infantry. They were vastly outnumbered as they were only a squad of 10.
The squad fell back, with several of their comrades setting up an anti-tank mine, with Drueke and Huynh manning an RPG7 rocket-propelled grenade launcher. The two former servicemen took out a BMP3 that was coming for them but, in doing so, attracted the attention of a T-72 tank. The T-72 tank fired a shot toward the two veterans that missed but may have knocked them both out cold. With the situation being extremely chaotic, they did not see the pair anymore and assumed they were killed or perhaps captured.
“Afterwards, we sent drones up and had a Ukrainian search team on the ground, but we found nothing. If they had been hit by the tank shell, there would have been remains of their bodies or equipment at the scene,” the soldier said.
Later on, a Russian Telegram account reported that two Americans were captured near Kharkiv, confirming their hypothesis. The Telegram post also claimed that some 10 to 20 Ukrainian soldiers were taken “hostage.” As Drueke and Huynh were the only Americans fighting in the area, they had no doubt it was them.
The fate of the two Americans, believed to be the first US citizens captured by the Russians, is uncertain as Russia has yet to acknowledge they have them. As Russia has done with other POWs, they may be subject to coercive methods of interrogation, beatings, starvation, and torture. The Russians will also likely compel them to make anti-US and anti-Ukraine statements for propaganda purposes.
Russia may also accuse them of terrorism and other crimes and put them on trial for their lives as they recently did with Aiden Aslin, Shaun Pinner and Moroccan national Brahim Saaudun. All three have been sentenced to death in what is being widely denounced as a sham trial.
Russian mistreatment or sham trial convictions for the American volunteers would increase tension between Washington and Moscow. Putin and the Kremlin may use the two Americans as bargaining chips in a desperate attempt to ease sanctions on Russia or to halt US arms shipments to Ukraine.
Furthermore, Putin could claim that the two US veterans are “proof” of direct US involvement in the conflict.
The State Department is currently monitoring the situation and the status of the two Americans:
“We are aware of unconfirmed reports of two US citizens captured in Ukraine,” the State Department said. “We are closely monitoring the situation and are in contact with Ukrainian authorities.”
“We also once again reiterate US citizens should not travel to Ukraine due to the active armed conflict and the singling out of US citizens in Ukraine by Russian government security officials and that US citizens in Ukraine should depart immediately if it is safe to do so using any commercial or other privately available ground transportation options.”
This is a developing story that SOFREP will be watching closely for new information.