Jun 17, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Russian state media release video of U.S. vets who went missing in Ukraine

Photo of a Russian flag next to a destroyed building

A Russian national flag flies by destroyed buildings in Mariupol on April 12. Photo: Alexander Nemenov/AFP via Getty Images

Russian state media released footage Friday of two U.S. military veterans who went missing while fighting in Ukraine.

Why it matters: The video confirms that both are alive but also raises concerns about their future in Russian captivity. Alex Drueke and Andy Huynh are believed to be the first U.S. citizens detained by Russian forces since they invaded Ukraine, per AP.

What they're saying: In one video, Drueke says to the camera, "Mom, I just want to let you know that I’m alive and I hope to be back home as soon as I can be."

  • In other clips, both men state in Russian and English, "I am against war."
  • According to state media outlet RT, both remain at a detention center run by separatists in the Donbas region.
  • They were reported missing after facing heavy fire in the northeastern Kharvi region on June 9.

Worth noting: Russian state media has not said if its forces captured the third American who traveled to Ukraine and also went missing.

The big picture: The U.S. State Department has emphasized that anyone captured on the battlefield, Ukrainian or not, should be afforded the "full protections of the Geneva Conventions and the Laws of Armed Conflict."

  • But the Russian military and separatist groups have said they consider foreigners mercenaries who are not protected by international law.
  • Last week, a separatists-controlled court in Donbas sentenced to death three other foreigners, two Britons and a Moroccan, who had been captured while fighting for Ukraine, AP reports.
  • The State Department has repeatedly urged Americans to avoid traveling to Ukraine.
Go deeper