U.S. Captives Alexander Drueke and Andy Huynh Surface in Russian Propaganda Videos
Two of the US warplanes believed to have been captured by Russian forces in Ukraine last week have suddenly appeared in Russian propaganda videos, asserting their families’ worst fears that they fell into the hands of the enemy.
Alexander Drueke, 39, and Andy Huynh, 27, are said to be worse dressed in the video shared by Russian state media on Friday. Although both officially joined the Ukrainian army as volunteers during the war, Russian headlines describe them as American “mercenaries”.
In what appears to be a heavily edited video released by Russia Izvestia newspaper, Huynh said he was influenced by “propaganda” and “exaggerated facts” in the news before joining the war. He continued to deny reports of Russian troops killing civilians.
“When I got here, I found out that wasn’t the case,” he said.
While he spoke in English, the video with Russian dub appeared to attribute quotes to Huynh that he couldn’t hear in the clip, such as “Western media” not reporting on the incident. Ukraine’s military is “incompetent” and “broken.”
Huynh also appeared in another brief video, saying: “I oppose war” in Russian.
“My name is Alexander Drueke, I am against war,” Drueke repeated in a video shared by the Kremlin-owned RT, before switching to Russian to echo his opposition to war.
Another 10-second video shows Drueke reassuring his mother that he is still alive and telling her: “I hope to be back home as soon as possible.”
walkie talkie reported their arrest earlier this week, quoting a teammate who had fought with them as saying that both Drueke and Huynh had disappeared after a “crazy” mission in the Kharkiv region passing by. The US State Department said it was working to verify reports of the men’s arrest, as well as their whereabouts.
“Unfortunately, we don’t know the full details of that case,” State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters at a briefing Thursday. He said US officials have yet to contact Russian authorities about the men, as it remains unclear whether they will be held in Russian custody.
A third American who took part in the fight against Russian forces, he said, is also missing.
Chris Bowyer, a member of the same unit that Drueke and Huynh joined but left at the end of May, told New York Times on Thursday that the couple had apparently been arrested due to bad news.
“It was supposed to be a reconnaissance mission,” Bower is quoted as saying. “They were briefed that the village was safe, that the Russians had been driven from there, and then they appeared in the midst of the Russian attack.”
President Joe Biden told reporters on Friday that he had been briefed on reports of three Americans missing in Ukraine, but said their whereabouts were unknown.
“We don’t know where they are, but I want to reiterate: Americans shouldn’t be going to Ukraine right now,” he said.
The arrests of Drueke and Huynh, as well as the disappearance of another American veterinarian, retired Marine officer Grady Kurpasi, come amid calls by Russian authorities for the death penalty to be imposed. any “foreign mercenary” arrested for fighting on behalf of Ukraine.
Although Russia currently has a moratorium on the execution of the death penalty, Russian proxies in occupied Ukraine’s Donetsk have sentenced to death three other foreign volunteers after they were captured in the battles of Mariupol.
Although those three have been given a month to appeal the death sentence, Denis Pushilin, the leader of the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic, told reporters earlier this week that there is no “base” for these This person is pardoned.