Russian state TV publishes videos of missing Americans in Ukraine

Smoke blankets the city of Severodonetsk, eastern Ukraine – AFP

A Russian state TV channel broadcast videos of two Americans who were reported missing last week while fighting alongside the Ukrainian army, hours after US President Joe Biden said he did not know their whereabouts.

Family members and lawmakers say Alexander Drueke and Andy Huynh, both Alabama state military veterans, lost contact with relatives while fighting alongside Ukrainian forces near the Russian border.

The State Department had contemplated that the Americans, including a third citizen, who was a captain in the US Marines, were missing. The Americans are part of a group, mostly veterans, who have joined other foreigners and volunteers to support Ukrainian troops.

On Friday night, Russian channel journalist RT Roman Cossarev posted a video on the messaging app Telegram in which Drueke appears sitting in what appears to be an office, wearing military clothes, and says: “Mom, I just want you to you know that I am alive and hope to return home as soon as possible.”

RT’s official Telegram channel also published an interview with Huynh, in which he says the two were “in combat with Russian troops” near the Ukrainian strategic area of ​​Kharkov.

“Russian troops invaded our positions. We had to backtrack and one of my teammates and I waited for about three hours in a trench to make sure the area was clear,” says Huynh. “We ended up walking for five hours through the forest and came to a path where we surrendered to Russian forces.”

It is unknown whether the two veterans were forced to speak, nor the circumstances in which the videos were recorded. A State Department spokesperson confirmed that US officials had seen the photos and videos.

US President Joe Biden on Friday urged US citizens not to go to Ukraine. “Americans must not go to Ukraine. I repeat, Americans must not go to Ukraine now.”

Russian officials in the so-called People’s Republic of Donetsk, a strip of eastern Ukraine controlled by Moscow, sentenced to death two Britons and a Moroccan captured in combat.

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