US fighters ‘captured’ by Russian forces in Ukraine

“We suspect that they were knocked unconscious by either the anti-tank mine, or by the tank shooting at them, because later search missions found not sign of them, nothing,” their comrade said. 

“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.” 

He said his suspicions were confirmed later that night when a message appeared on a Russian Telegram channel claiming that two American servicemen had been taken PoW near Kharkiv. 

“It is too much of a coincidence for that to have happened otherwise – we are the only Americans fighting in this area.” 

‘I just want to have him back safely’

Mr Drueke, 39, is from Tuscaloosa in Alabama and had previously served with the US army in Iraq. His mother, Lois, 68, told The Telegraph that he had struggled to hold down a job since returning from military service as a result of suffering from PTSD.  

“The US embassy have assured me that they are doing everything they can to find him and that they are searching for him alive, not dead. I am doing my best not to fall apart, I am going to stay strong. I am very hopeful that they will keep him to exchange for Russian PoWs.” 

Mr Huynh was born in California but lived in Alabama’s Tennessee Valley area. He previously served in the US Marines. 

His partner, Joy Black, said she had received a call from Mr Huynh’s comrades on Monday to say that he had gone missing.

“I was told they had not made their rendezvous point,” she said, adding that some drone searches “found no trace” of him. 

She added that the idea of volunteering had been “gnawing” at Mr Huynh ever since the very first day of the Russian invasion on February 24.

“He said to me: ‘They are attacking with 60 battalions, do you know how much that is?’ 

“At first, I didn’t really take him seriously, but he was reading all these stories about young Ukrainian men having to fight as soon they turned 18, and he felt he should try to help.

“I tried to persuade him not to go, but I think his mind was made up. I could see how it was gnawing at him. Eventually, he apologised to me and said he really had to go. 

“He didn’t tell me anything about the operation he was on last week, as he didn’t want to scare me. I just want to have him back safely.”

A State Department spokesperson said: “We are aware of unconfirmed reports of two US citizens captured in Ukraine. We are closely monitoring the situation and are in contact with Ukrainian authorities. Due to privacy considerations, we have no further comment.

“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 U.S. citizens in Ukraine should depart immediately if it is safe to do so using any commercial or other privately available ground transportation options.”

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