Two American fighters are missing in Ukraine and are feared to be captured

The men are Alexander John-Robert Drueke, 39, of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and Andy Tai Ngoc Huynh, 27, of Hartselle, Alabama.

A man acting as a team sergeant, who wanted to remain anonymous for security reasons, provided CNN with photos of the two men’s passports and their entry stamps into Ukraine. The man said his unit was fighting under the command of the 92nd Mechanized Brigade of Ukraine on June 9, near the town of Izbytske.

Drueke and Huynh, he said, disappeared during the battle and subsequent search missions found no remains. A post on a Russian propaganda channel in the Telegram the next day claimed that two Americans had been captured near Kharkiv. “It was absolute chaos,” he told CNN. “There were more than a hundred infantry advancing on our positions. We had a T72 firing at people from 30 or 40 meters away.”

Bunny Drueke, Alexander’s mother, told CNN that “they are presumed to be prisoners of war, but this has not been confirmed.”

He said the US embassy in Ukraine could not verify whether his son had been captured. “They have not been able to verify that he is with the Russians. All they can check is that he is missing at the moment,” he said. “They keep in close contact with me and I have every confidence they are working on the situation.”

Huynh’s fiancé Joy Black told CNN, “We don’t want to make any assumptions about what might have happened right now. Obviously, they’re looking at various scenarios. And one of them is that they could have been captured. But we don’t. I have absolute confirmation of that at this time. “

A U.S. State Department spokesman said Wednesday that “it is knowledge of unconfirmed reports of two U.S. citizens captured in Ukraine.”

“We are following the situation closely and are in contact with the Ukrainian authorities,” the spokesman said. “Due to privacy considerations, we have no further comments.”

The White House said Wednesday it could not confirm the reports, but National Security Council Strategic Communications Coordinator John Kirby said “if true, we will do our best to bring them home safely.” .

Both Bunny Drueke and Black told CNN that their last communication with their loved ones was on June 8, when the men told them they would be offline for a few days for a mission.

“It was a pretty normal conversation: I told him I was going to eat with my friends at our favorite restaurant,” Black said. “And he said, ‘I love you so much.’ And then he said, “I won’t be available for two or three days.” What I found out was the operation they were doing. “

They were engaged in March, shortly before he left for Ukraine, he said.

“We didn’t know if we wanted to get married or get engaged before he left. And we decided to just get engaged so that when he came back we could get married and enjoy it and not break up right after we got married.”

Now, he said, it is “very fragile.”

“Even though no big things have happened, I’m still very proud of Andy for being strong,” he added.

Bunny Drueke said he has “ups and downs.”

“I’m trying to stay calm and brave, because losing everything won’t help Alex at all. So I’m just trying to stay calm,” he said.

Drueke and Black later told CNN’s Anderson Cooper in a joint interview with “AC360” on Wednesday evening that selflessness and love for the United States drove their loved ones’ decision to go to Ukraine.

“He’s one of the most loyal Americans you’ll ever expect to meet and he was proud to serve his country,” Drueke said of his son. He said: “Mother, I really need to go and help fight in Ukraine because if Putin doesn’t stop there, he won’t be satisfied, he will be brave and eventually the Americans will be threatened.”

Fighting through tears, Black told Cooper that his fiancé “didn’t go there for selfish reasons or anything. He really had that heartbeat and that big load to go and serve people as best he could.”

“I know it’s not a big deal, but I’m still very proud of him. I just want to see him again for sure,” he said.

This story has been updated with additional reports.

CNN’s Jennifer Hansler, Kaitlan Collins and Devan Cole contributed reports from Washington, DC.

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