The mother of one of two U.S. military veterans reportedly being held by Russian or pro-Russian forces told CBS News that Russian media images that were released appear to be of her son.
“Unmistakably under duress, but thank God they’re alive,” Bunny Drueke, Alex Drueke’s mother, told CBS News foreign correspondent Chris Livesay.
Drueke and Andy Huynh, who are reportedly in Russian custody, were both former military from Alabama, and were fighting in a squadron of foreign fighters alongside the Ukrainian army.
The video released are the first images anyone has seen of them since they went missing a week ago in Eastern Ukraine. Although the video has not been verified, Bunny said that seeing it has brought some relief to her.
“I was just relieved he looks not like he’s been beaten or mistreated. That was really encouraging to me,” Bunny said.
One member of their squadron told CBS News that they were all nearly killed by a Russian vehicle, when Drueke and Huynh destroyed it with a rocket-propelled grenade, saving their lives last week.
Joy Black, Huynh’s fiancée, spoke to CBS News about the last known information she had of him.
“They missed their rendezvous point and that that had been a few days prior. They’ve gone and searched, they didn’t find anything. And later I found out they’d done drone searches and still found nothing no traces,” Black said.
The Kremlin says it doesn’t know anything about Americans being held by Russia. But during a tv segment, a host on a Russian state media video could be heard mocking the families as images of the two appeared in the background.
“They went to Ukraine to kill Russians,” he says. “But ended up being captured by the same Russians,” the host said during one of his broadcasts.
Ukrainians are in their fourth month of war and there are reports of an additional American fighter has gone missing on the front lines.
Retired Marine Capt. Grady Kurpasi, a 20-year veteran, reportedly disappeared after taking small-arms fire in the Kherson region.
President Joe Biden has warned Americans to stay out of Ukraine and said that the U.S. doesn’t know where Drueke and Huynh are.
Russian media said that Americans who come to Ukraine to help fight in the war will be treated as mercenaries, and not according to the protections of the Geneva Convention.