The family of one of the former US servicemen captured in Ukraine said his captors were seeking to negotiate his release.
Alex Drueke’s family also say he twice told the US State Department that he was taken by members of the Donetsk People’s Republic – not the Russian military. The Donetsk People’s Republic is a Ukrainian region supported by Russia.
Mr Drueke, 40, and Andy Huynh, 27, disappeared in Ukraine while volunteering with other foreign fighters who joined the effort to reverse Russia’s invasion of the country. The men were last seen neutralizing a Russian tank. After the smoke from the battle cleared, members of their unit could not find them and Russian forces later claimed on social media that they had captured two Americans.
Mr. Drueke’s aunt, Dianna Shaw, told ABC News that he called the State Department on Saturday from a Russian phone number. He reportedly read a statement saying that the DRP wanted to negotiate his release and that of Mr. Huynh. He also added that he was well treated and given shelter and water.
On Tuesday, Mr. Drueke called back, reading a second statement regarding the negotiations but without mentioning the terms of a possible negotiation. He said he spent most of his time in solitary confinement and had not seen Mr. Huynh for several days.
“We have been in contact with Ukrainian and Russian authorities regarding US citizens who may have been captured by Russian proxies while fighting in Ukraine,” the State Department told ABC News. “We are looking to learn as much as we can and are providing all possible support, including to families we are in contact with. For privacy reasons, we have no further comment at this time.”
The State Department also said it advised Americans to stay away from combat or they could be captured or killed.
Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelenskyy called the men “heroes” and said he was determined to secure their release.
“We will fight for them and get them back, and of course they will come back to their families,” he said in a statement. “For me, it is a great honor that there are soldiers in the world who are not afraid, and that they have come to support us, our sovereignty and our independence.”
Mr Drueke’s mother, Bunny Drueke, released a statement saying it was ‘very encouraging to hear that the Ukrainian government is committed to securing the release of Alex and Andy’.
The Independent Gt