Ukrainian War: Russia publishes photo of soldiers captured by the United States | World | New

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The first photo has been released of two American nationals captured by Russian forces in eastern Ukraine (Image: DashkoPashko/Twitter)

Russian TV host discusses ‘death sentence’ for US soldiers

Alexander Drueke, 39, and Andy Huynh, 27, both from Alabama, traveled to Ukraine as volunteer fighters against Russian forces. They have been missing for a week and fear capture, according to family members.

Reports that the couple were taken as prisoners of war by Russia remain unconfirmed, the families and US officials said. The White House said it was “working very hard to find out more” about the two.

The image appears to show two men in combat gear who appear to be in the back of a vehicle with their hands behind their backs. Express.co.uk was unable to independently verify the photograph.

It was shared from the DashkoPashko Twitter account in Donetsk, an industrial city in eastern Ukraine, on Thursday.

Washington said on Thursday it had not asked Moscow about two US citizens missing after traveling to Ukraine to fight Russian forces.

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Alexander Drueke (Image: Family Document via Reuters)

The United States also said there were reports of a third American missing.

US State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters: “To date, we have not raised this issue with the Russian Federation… [We] I haven’t seen anything from the Russians indicating that two of these individuals are in their custody.”

He described the reports of the two men as unconfirmed.

Mr Price continued: ‘There are reports of an additional American whose whereabouts are unknown. We understand this individual has traveled to Ukraine.’

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Drueke

Mr. Drueke with his mother Lois (Image: Family Document via Reuters)

a warning sign on a door near destroyed buildings as Russian attacks continue on Ukraine in Kramatorsk, Donetsk Oblast

A warning sign on a door near destroyed buildings as Russian attacks on Ukraine continue (Image: Getty)

He said the third American had been identified as missing in recent weeks.

Mr. Drueke and Mr. Huynh were last in contact with their families on June 8.

The alarm was raised when they failed to return from a mission in the Kharkiv region of eastern Ukraine, where they had volunteered to fight.

Joy Black, Mr Huynh’s fiancée, said: “What we know officially at this stage from the State Department is that Andy and Alex are missing.

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Russia v Ukraine in numbers (Picture: Express)

“We have no confirmation for anything beyond that.

“Obviously, the longer the research goes on, the more we start to consider other scenarios.”

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Washington had not contacted Moscow about information on US fighters.

The RIA news agency reported that Ms Zakharova allegedly said: “I don’t have this information. I check every day and I will check today. We make public all information about the fate of mercenaries detained or sentenced to a trial.”

humanitarian aid next to a destroyed house along a street in the town of Bucha

A woman waits for humanitarian aid next to a destroyed house along a street in the town of Bucha (Image: Getty)

Had the couple been abducted, they would be the first confirmed US citizens to have been taken as prisoners of war in the conflict which is now in its fourth month.

White House national security spokesman John Kirby said if the information was true, the United States would do everything in its power to recover it.

Lois Drueke, Mr Drueke’s mother, said she had been in contact with the US Embassy in Ukraine, which was looking for the couple.

Both men told their families on June 8 that they would go offline for a few days, but did not provide details for fear their communications would be intercepted.

Mr. Drueke has made two tours to Iraq, the last as chief gunner in Baghdad in 2008-09, according to his mother. Mr Huynh is a former US Marine who left the service in 2018, his fiancée said.

They said the men did not know each other before meeting in Ukraine, but both felt compelled to support the government after seeing photos of civilian casualties as Russia withdrew from towns outside Kyiv end of March.

Miss Black said: ‘When Andy saw this footage from Ukraine he said he couldn’t sleep, couldn’t eat, was just consumed by the horror these innocent civilians were going through.

Russia denies attacking civilians and has accused Western citizens of acting as “mercenaries”, saying Western support for Kyiv is prolonging the conflict and causing more casualties.

Ms Drueke said: “As a mother, of course, I didn’t want my child to be in danger, but I knew it was really important to Alex. He wanted a purpose in his life and he felt that was good and noble.”

News of the men’s alleged capture follows the death sentences of two British citizens and a Moroccan man last week by a separatist court in the unrecognized Russian-speaking Donetsk People’s Republic. They too were caught fighting for Ukraine.

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