TWO veterans have been captured in Ukraine, becoming the first American prisoners of war held in Russia, reports say.
Alexander Drueke, 39, and Andy Huynh, 27, were reportedly seized by Russian troops just outside the northeast city of Kharkiv last week, according to The Telegraph.
The two service members reportedly volunteered with a Ukrainian army unit before their capture.
A comrade of the men, who asked not to be named, told The Telegraph that they had been captured after running into a large Russian force during a battle on June 9.
“We were out on a mission and the whole thing went absolutely crazy, with bad intel,” he told the outlet.
“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 and about 100 infantry. The only thing that was there was our 10-man squad.”
The comrade told the outlet that the squad had set up defense positions, during which Drueke and Huynh fired a rocket-propelled grenade at a Russian vehicle, destroying it.
However, the move drew the attention of a Russian tank that opened fire in their direction.
Moments later, the tank was disabled by an anti-tank mine, but the American vets vanished in the fog of battle as fears mounted about their capture.
The comrade told the outlet that the squadron launched a rescue mission in search of the Americans, sending drones in the sky and search teams on the ground – but came up empty.
He said his suspicions were confirmed later that night when a message appeared on a Russian Telegram channel claiming that two American servicemen had been taken PoW near Kharkiv.
“It is too much of a coincidence for that to have happened otherwise – we are the only Americans fighting in this area,” the man told The Telegraph.
US VETS ‘GONE MISSING’
The vet’s mother, Lois, 68, told the outlet that he struggled to hold a steady job after returning from overseas – claiming her son suffered from PTSD.
His partner, Joy Black, said she had received a call from Huynh’s comrades on Monday saying he had gone missing.
“I was told they had not made their rendezvous point,” she told the outlet, adding that some drone searches “found no trace” of him.
Black said the idea of volunteering had been on Huynh’s mind ever since the first day of the Russian invasion on February 24.
“He said to me: ‘They are attacking with 60 battalions, do you know how much that is?’
“At first, I didn’t really take him seriously, but he was reading all these stories about young Ukrainian men having to fight as soon they turned 18, and he felt he should try to help,” she said.
“I tried to persuade him not to go, but I think his mind was made up. I could see how it was gnawing at him. Eventually, he apologized to me and said he really had to go.
“He didn’t tell me anything about the operation he was on last week, as he didn’t want to scare me. I just want to have him back safely.”