Shelling round Kharkiv elevated in a single day with out Russian forces transferring in, Ukrainian officers say
Captive US citizens Alexander John-Robert Drueke, 39, and Andy Tai Ngoc Huynh, 27, were interviewed by Russian broadcaster RT on Friday June 17 at a detention center in the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR), according to a report released on RT. (Bunny Drueke/Joy Black)
According to Russian state media, two American volunteer fighters for Ukraine have been taken into custody by Russian-backed separatists in Donetsk after being captured by Russian forces last week.
U.S. citizens Alexander John-Robert Drueke, 39, of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and Andy Tai Ngoc Huynh, 27, of Hartselle, Alabama, were interviewed by Russian broadcaster RT at a detention center in the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) Friday, according to a report published on RT.
Missing near Kharkiv: The two Americans disappeared on June 9 during a battle north of Kharkiv and were feared to have been captured by Russian forces, according to their families and a fellow combatant.
Video Appearances: Short video clips appeared on pro-Russian channels and social media on Friday that appeared to show the men arrested at an undisclosed location. At the time it was not clear who was holding her.
A State Department spokesman told CNN on Friday that they “saw the photos and videos of these two US citizens who were reportedly captured by Russian forces in Ukraine.”
“We are closely monitoring the situation and our hearts are with their families at this difficult time,” they said.
“We are in contact with the Ukrainian authorities, the International Committee of the Red Cross and with the families themselves… For privacy reasons, we have no further comments on these cases.”
Separately, a more than 50-minute edited video was released on Saturday in which Drueke and Huynh were interviewed by HelmCast, a pro-Russian Serbian nationalist YouTube channel
Donetsk: In the interview, a man behind the camera can be heard revealing the location of their interview when he says “here in Donetsk” during a question for Drueke.
Beaten in custody: Drueke is also asked in the interview if he has any objections to the way he has been treated since his capture, and he admits he has been beaten a number of times.
Why your location matters: The location of Drueke and Huynh’s detention is a potentially worrying development. Russia has a moratorium on the death penalty while Donetsk uses firing squads to execute convicted prisoners, according to Russian state media RIA Novosti.
Foreign Fighters: On June 9, a court in the DPR sentenced foreign militants, two British nationals and a Moroccan national, to death after accusing them of being “mercenaries” for Ukraine. The internationally unrecognized court in the DPR said the men had a month to appeal.
dashed prisoner swap: Hopes that a prisoner swap between Ukraine and pro-Russian separatists could free all foreign fighters detained in Donetsk were dashed after Denis Pushilin, the self-proclaimed head of the DPR, said such a swap was out of the question.
“Replacing the British men sentenced to death in the DPR is not being discussed, there is no reason to pardon them,” Pushilin told independent Russian investigative newspaper Novaya Gazeta on Thursday.
The Donetsk People’s Republic did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the detention of Drueke and Huynh.
CNN chose not to air the videos of US detainees because they show the men speaking under duress.