Two Alabama men who traveled to Ukraine to volunteer for the Ukrainian Army have gone missing near the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv, according to statements released Wednesday by members of the Alabama congressional delegation.
The two men missing are Andy Tai Ngoc Huynh, 27, a former U.S. Marine from Trinity in Lawrence County, and Alexander Drueke, 39, a former U.S. Army solider from Tuscaloosa. Both men were together in Kharkiv, according to the Associated Press.
Kharkiv, the second-largest city in Ukraine, located roughly 23 miles from the Russian border, was the site of intense fighting between Ukrainian and Russian forces during the initial invasion, with sustained combat continuing into the intervening months. In recent days, the Russian military has attempted to strengthen its position in the Kharkiv Oblast, with Ukrainian forces continuing to sustain losses, according to a report from The Washington Post published Thursday.
Congressman Robert Aderholt, R-Alabama, said in a statement Wednesday that the family of Andy Tai Huynh had contacted his office earlier this week and said they had lost communication with their son the week prior. Huynh had volunteered to fight for the Ukrainian Army in April, according to WAAY 31.
“According to Huynh’s family, they have not been in contact with him since June 8, 2022, when he was in the Kharkiv area of Ukraine,” Aderholt said on Wednesday. “As you can imagine, his loved ones are very concerned about him. My office has placed inquiries with both the United States Department of State and the Federal Bureau of Investigation trying to get any information possible.”
The mother of Alexander Drueke contacted Congresswoman Terri Sewell, D-Alabama, earlier this week after losing contact with her son, according to a statement released Wednesday by Sewell’s office.
“My office has been in contact with the State Department, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and other members of the Alabama Congressional Delegation regarding this urgent matter,” Sewell said on Wednesday. “We will continue to do everything in our power to assist in locating him and finding answers for his family.
Reports that both men were captured by Russian forces, as was first reported by the Daily Telegraph in London on Wednesday, remain unconfirmed by the State Department and White House officials.
A State Department spokesperson said in a statement sent to APR after a request for comment on Wednesday that the department was “aware of unconfirmed reports of two U.S. citizens captured in Ukraine,” and has made contact with Ukrainian authorities concerning the missing men while continuing to monitor the situation.
“We also once again reiterate U.S. citizens should not travel to Ukraine due to the active armed conflict and the singling out of U.S. citizens in Ukraine by Russian government security officials, and that U.S. citizens in Ukraine should depart immediately if it is safe to do so using any commercial or other privately available ground transportation options,” the statement continued.
In a briefing at the White House Wednesday afternoon, National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications John Kirby said that he was aware of the missing men but couldn’t confirm reports that the two men were captured and warned Americans against traveling to Ukraine to join in the fighting.
“If it’s true, we’ll do everything we can to get them safely back home,” Kirby said. “This is an important point in time to remind that we discourage Americans from going to Ukraine and fighting in Ukraine. It is a war zone. It’s combat.”