First American fighters captured by Russian soldiers in Ukraine
Two American fighters have been made prisoners of war in Ukraine, the first since the start of the conflict.
Robert Drueke and Andy Huynh were taken prisoner by Russian forces last week on the outskirts of Kharkiv, sources quoted by The Daily Telegraph tuesday.
Drueke, 39, and Huynh, 27, are both from Alabama. It is unclear whether they were friends until they both voluntarily traveled to Ukraine earlier this year to assist Ukrainian forces as they continue to defend their country against Russian forces.
One of the men’s comrades described losing sight of the pair during a battle last week as they defended Kharkiv.
The pair were part of a ten-man squad defending Kharkiv last week when they were ambushed by Russian soldiers, according to one of their comrades who spoke to The Telegraph.
“We were on a mission and everything went crazy, with bad information. We were told the town was clear when it turned out the Russians were already attacking it. They came to the road with two T72 tanks and several BMP3s (armoured fighting vehicles) and about 100 infantrymen. The only thing that was there was our ten-man squad,” the anonymous fighter said.
Drueke and Huynh disabled a Russian tank with a grenade but were lost in the fog of returning fire. By the time he pulled away, they were gone.
Drueke served in the US Army in Iraq while Huynh, a former Marine, has never been in active combat before. He rushed to Ukraine in April after watching the invasion from afar, saying before leaving he was “at peace” knowing he could die in the conflict.
Robert Drueke, 39 (left) and Andy Huynh, 27 (right), were taken prisoner by Russian forces last week on the outskirts of Kharkiv, sources quoted by The Daily Telegraph on Tuesday said.
The State Department said Tuesday it was “aware” of reports of their capture, but a spokesperson declined to comment, citing confidentiality concerns.
Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark A. Milley did not comment on the capture on Tuesday.
“We suspect they were knocked out either by the anti-tank mine or the tank that fired at them, as subsequent search missions found no sign of them, nothing.
“Then we sent drones and sent a Ukrainian search team to the field, but we found nothing: if they had been hit by the shell of the tank, there would have been remains of their bodies or their equipment at the scene,” he said.
Russian forces claimed that night on the Telegram app that they had captured two American soldiers.
I know there is a risk that I will die. I’m ready to have my life or whatever I believe is right. ‘Cause what I’ve learned is true, truly through my eyes, Marine Corps, through God, and truly just what’s right
Captured former Marine Andy Huynh before going to Ukraine
Drueke’s mother in Alabama told the Telegraph she is in contact with the government and hopes they will secure her son’s release.
“The US Embassy has assured me that they are doing everything possible to find him and are looking for him alive, not dead.
“I’m doing my best not to fall apart, I’m going to stay strong. I am hopeful that they will keep him to exchange him for Russian POWs,” she said.
The conflict in Ukraine has now raged for more than 100 days, with Russian forces now focusing their offensive on the Donbass region.
Experts believe the war is at a pivotal moment, with Russia advancing further on Ukraine and likely to seize the east.
This week, President Zelensky pleaded with the West for more weapons to continue his fierce defense.
President Biden announced an additional $1 billion in aid to the Ukrainian government on Wednesday as Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin prepared to chair a committee of 50 Western countries in Brussels to calibrate a response.
Biden and Zelensky spoke on the phone beforehand.
On Wednesday, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mark Milley said it was not yet “inevitable” for Russia to seize eastern Ukraine.
“There is no inevitability in war. War takes many turns. So I wouldn’t say it’s inevitable.
He acknowledged that the numbers “clearly favored the Russians”.
Vadym Skibitsky, Ukraine’s deputy military intelligence chief, said last week that the West had given the country only 10% of the weapons and support it needed.
Drueke (left) served in Iraq for the US Army. His mother says he suffered from PTSD after the war and struggled to find work after leaving the armed forces. Huynh (right) was in the Marines for four years and spent two years on a base in Japan, but he had never been in active combat before joining the effort in Ukraine.
British prisoners of war Aiden Aslin (left) and Shaun Pinner (second from left) were sentenced to death by a Donetsk court on June 9, accused of being foreign mercenaries. They were captured with a Moroccan fighter (right) in April
This photograph taken on June 11, 2022 shows a Ukrainian BM-21 Grad, a multiple rocket launcher, firing near Izyum, south of Kharkiv, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The men were captured in a battle last week around the same time
Ukrainian gunners prepare to fire a BM-21 Grad multiple rocket launcher near Izyum, south of Kharkiv, on June 11, 2022 amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine
Drueke served in Iraq but struggled to find work or reintegrate into society after returning from the war, his mother said.
Huynh served in the Marines for four years, including a base in Okinawa, Japan, for two years, but he has never been in active combat before. Huynh’s family has yet to comment on his capture.
Before flying to the area, he told local media in his hometown of Hartselle, Alabama, “I made peace with the decision.
“I know there is potential for my death. “I’m ready to have my life or whatever I believe is right. Because what I have learned is right, truly through my eyes, Marine Corps, through God, and truly just what is right,” he said.
He grew up in California but moved to Alabama after leaving the Marines in order to be closer to his fiancee, Joy Black, according to a local media report. She has not commented on her capture.
Their capture comes after two Britons were taken prisoner by Putin’s army. Shaun Pinner and Aiden Aslin have been sentenced to death by a proxy court in eastern Ukraine.
They were captured in April. Now the couple have been sentenced to death by firing squad.
British officials say they are doing everything they can to get the couple out of Russian custody before they are shot.
Liz Truss, a favorite target of Russian state media, spoke out last week to condemn the sentences which she said had “absolutely no legitimacy” while promising “to do everything we can to support “the imprisoned couple.
She was mocked on Russian television by Putin’s associates who said the UK had done nothing to try to intervene in their plight.
Fighting in Ukraine has been relentless since late February, when Putin’s army advanced. Above, conflict on February 27 in Kharkiv, where the two American fighters were captured this week