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Two US Fighters ‘captured’ by Russian Forces in Ukraine

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Two former US servicemen have been captured during fighting with Russian forces in Ukraine, The Telegraph is reporting.

The pair were taken prisoner during a fierce battle outside the north-east city of Kharkiv last week, according to comrades who were fighting alongside them.

Alexander Drueke, 39, and Andy Huynh, 27, had been serving as volunteers with a regular Ukrainian army unit. They are believed to be the first US servicemen to end up as Russian prisoners of war.

They will join a growing number of Western military volunteers captured by Russian forces, including three Britons – Aiden Aslin, Shaun Pinner and Andrew Hill.

Last week, a court in the pro-Russian breakaway state of the Donetsk People’s Republic sentenced Mr Aslin and Mr Pinner to death, after trying them as “mercenaries”.

The capture of the two Americans will be diplomatically sensitive, as the Kremlin may seek to use it as proof that the US is becoming directly involved in the war. Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, is likely to demand significant concessions in exchange for their release.

A comrade of the two men, who asked not to be named, told The Telegraph they had been captured after running into a much larger Russian force during a battle last Thursday in the village of Izbytske, 30 miles north-east of Kharkiv. The village is less than five miles from the Russian border.

“We were out on a mission and the whole thing went absolutely crazy, with bad intel,” he said.

“We were told the town was clear, when it turned out the Russians were already assaulting it. They came down the road with two T72 tanks and multiple BMP3s [armoured fighting vehicles] and about 100 infantry. The only thing that was there was our 10-man squad.”

The squad fell back and set up defensive positions, laying an anti-tank mine in the road for the advancing T72s. Mr Drueke and Mr Huynh, meanwhile, manned an RPG7 rocket-propelled grenade launcher together.

“Everybody took cover waiting for one of the tanks to hit the anti-tank mine, but Alex and Andy saw a BMP3 coming from another direction through the woods and realised that it would kill most of us. They opened fire and took it out with their first shot.”

That, however, drew the attention of one of the T72 tanks, which fired a shot in the pair’s direction. The shell is thought to have missed them, but may have caused a blast that knocked them out.

Shortly afterwards, the tank itself was crippled itself by one of the anti-tank mines. The two Americans then vanished in the fog of battle, where they are thought to have been captured by the Russian infantry soldiers.

Their comrade said: “It was all very chaotic, but we suspect that they were knocked unconscious by either the blast from the tank shooting at them, or from the anti-tank mine blowing up, because later search missions found not a sign of them.

“Afterwards, we sent drones up and had a Ukrainian search team on the ground, but we found nothing. If they had been hit by the tank shell, there would have been remains of their bodies or equipment at the scene.”

He said his suspicions grew later that night, when a message appeared on a Russian Telegram channel claiming that two American servicemen had been taken as prisoners of war near Kharkiv.

“Z group have scored some success in the Kharkiv destination for the last two days. We have taken hostage 10-20 Ukrainian soldiers and also today two American mercenaries,” the post said.

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