Russian outlets share videos claiming to show 2 Americans reported missing in Ukraine

The two veterans were last heard from on June 8, their families said.

June 18, 2022, 11:09 AM

Russian state-controlled news outlets released videos Friday that they claim show two Americans who have been reported missing in Ukraine.

Alexander Drueke, 39, and Andy Tai Ngoc Huynh, 27, both former service members from Alabama, volunteered to assist Ukrainian forces in the war against Russia, U.S. officials and their families said. They both have not been heard from since June 8, when they were in the Kharkiv area of Ukraine, their families said.

On Friday, state-controlled paper Izvestia released a 37-second video that it said depicts Huynh. In it, he can be heard delivering a pro-Russian statement while a Russian translation plays over the footage.

Russian state-controlled outlet RT also has released footage of an interview it said is with Huynh.

A journalist from RT posted a 10-second video that he said shows Drueke, during which he can be heard addressing his mother directly to the camera.

"I hope to be back home as soon as I can," he said while wearing fatigues and sitting in what appears to be an office.

In an article on its website, RT said its interviews with Huynh and Drueke were conducted on Thursday in a detention center in the Donbas region of Ukraine.

The videos come a day after a photo that appears to show both men with their hands behind their backs started circulating online.

The U.S. State Department is aware of the photo and videos of the two U.S. citizens "reportedly captured by Russia's military forces in Ukraine," a spokesperson said Friday.

The former service members have been in Ukraine since April and met while in the country, their families said.

Drueke, an Army veteran, wanted to help train the Ukrainian forces, his mother, Lois "Bunny" Drueke, told "Good Morning America."

"He wanted to go over and help train the Ukrainian soldiers and show them how to use the equipment that the U.S. has been sending over there for them," she said.

She said she last heard from her son in a text message on June 8. He said he was with Huynh at the time, and there were unverified reports that they may have been captured by Russian forces, she said.

Huynh, a former Marine who reached the rank of corporal, went to help defend Ukraine during the war, his fiancée, Joy Black, told "Good Morning America."

"We just really want him back," Black said through tears. "He's got such a big heart. He knew this wasn't the easy thing, but this was the right thing."

Two Alabama lawmakers said Wednesday they have been asked by the men's families for their help in locating them.

Rep. Robert Aderholt, R-Ala., said his office has reached out to the State Department and FBI to "get any information possible" about Huynh's whereabouts after his family reached out to the congressman's office this week.

Rep. Terri Sewell, D-Ala., said her office has been in contact with the State Department, the FBI and other members of the Alabama Congressional delegation after Drueke's family contacted her for help this week after losing contact with him for several days.

Drueke's family also said it was aware of the newly circulating photo that appears to show the missing men.

"Our contact at the State Department is aware of possible photographic evidence of Alex's and Andy's capture circulating on Russian media," the Drueke family said in a statement to ABC News. "They are working to verify it. We are very hopeful."

PHOTO: Alexander Drueke and Andy Tai Ngoc Huynh are Americans who had volunteered to join the Ukrainian forces. Both are now missing in Ukraine.
Alexander Drueke and Andy Tai Ngoc Huynh are Americans who had volunteered to join the Ukrainian forces. Both are now missing in Ukraine.
Drueke family | Joy Black

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told reporters Thursday that he did not have any information on the missing men when asked about Drueke and Huynh.

The State Department said is it constrained in discussing the matter due to privacy concerns.

"We are limited in terms of what we know at the moment," State Department spokesperson Ned Price told reporters Thursday. "We're closely monitoring the situation, we are in contact with Ukrainian authorities, as well as with the International Committee of the Red Cross, and the families of the two reported missing U.S. citizens."

Price said the State Department had not had any direct communication with Russia concerning the whereabouts of the two men.

"If we feel that such outreach through our embassy in Moscow or otherwise would be productive in terms of finding out more information on the whereabouts of these individuals, we won't hesitate to do that," he said.

Price said the department is also aware of a third, unidentified American who reportedly traveled to Ukraine to fight and whose "whereabouts are unknown."

"Similarly, our understanding was that this individual had traveled to Ukraine to take up arms," Price said, adding that the person was identified as missing "in recent weeks" and that the State Department was also in contact with their family.

A family spokesperson told ABC News that the missing American is retired Marine captain Grady Kurpasi, who served 12 years in the Marine Corps.

"We have had just as many leads pointing to the direction that he may not be alive anymore, and we've had just as many leads point to the direction that he's a P.O.W.," the family's spokesperson, Don Turner, told ABC News.

Kurpasi's wife, Soohee Kim, told ABC News her husband left Wilmington, North Carolina, on March 7 bound for Ukraine and she last heard from him in late April. She said that she has been in regular contact with the State Department and hears from them almost daily.

Turner said they're not going to quit searching for him.

"Marines don't leave anyone behind," Turner said. "Right now, he's not been left behind because we're still trying to find him."

The State Department has warned U.S. citizens against traveling to Ukraine during the war and that Russian security officials could be "singling out" U.S. citizens.

ABC News' Christopher Looft, Shannon Crawford, Vera Drymon and Luis Martinez contributed to this report.

Related Topics

ABC News Live

ABC News Live

24/7 coverage of breaking news and live events