LONDON — Two U.S. veterans who had been serving as volunteers in Ukraine have reportedly been captured. Their comrades told Yahoo News that they were informed that the two men were taken prisoner on June 9 during a battle northeast of Kharkiv.
“We have not since heard anything about their well-being,” the platoon of volunteer soldiers wrote on Twitter. “The information was confirmed by the Ukrainian intelligence.”
Alex Drueke and Andy Tai Ngoc Huynh’s families confirmed to the New York Times that their loved ones had gone missing while fighting in Ukraine. However, they were unable to confirm to the Times whether they had been captured.
If taken prisoner, Drueke and Huynh will be the first Americans known to become prisoners of war in the conflict.
“When Russia invaded Ukraine, Alex immediately told me he wanted to go use his skills to train Ukrainians in how to operate American weaponry,” Drueke’s mother told the Times. “He isn’t married, he doesn’t have kids, and he has the training and the experience. He felt it was his duty to help defend democracy, wherever needed.”
“Andy didn’t make the easy choice; he made the right choice,” Huynh’s fiancée told the paper. “Andy did not go there for an adventure. He just wanted to help.”
The State Department released a statement on Wednesday saying it was “aware of unconfirmed reports” of the two U.S. citizens being captured in Ukraine. “We are closely monitoring the situation and are in contact with Ukrainian authorities,” the statement read. “Due to privacy considerations, we have no further comment."
Families of soldiers captured by Russia are worried that the Kremlin or its allies may conduct show trials with trumped-up charges instead of treating them as prisoners of war. Two British fighters and one Moroccan were recently sentenced to death by a court in a Russian-backed separatist region in eastern Ukraine.
According to both Ukraine and the U.K., the sentences violate the laws that protect prisoners of war.
British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss described it as a “sham judgment with absolutely no legitimacy.” She added: “My thoughts are with the families. We continue to do everything we can to support them.”