Two U.S. citizens who traveled to Ukraine as volunteer fighters against Russian forces have been missing for a week and are feared captured, family members said on Wednesday.
Alexander Drueke, 39, of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and Andy Huynh, 27, of Hartselle, Alabama, were last in contact with their families on June 8 and did not return from a mission around the Kharkiv region of eastern Ukraine.
Reports that the two men have been taken prisoners of war by Russia are unconfirmed, the families and a U.S. State Department spokesperson said.
“What we know officially at this point from the State Department is that Andy and Alex are missing,” Joy Black, Andy’s fiancee, said by phone.
“We do not have confirmation for anything beyond that. Obviously the longer the search goes the more we start to consider other scenarios,” she added.
Russia’s defense ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
If the pair have been captured, they would be the first confirmed U.S. citizens to have been taken as prisoners of war in the conflict that began on Feb. 24 with Russian President Vladimir Putin ordering an invasion of its neighbor.
White House national security spokesperson John Kirby said that if the reports are true, the United States “will do everything we can” to get them back.
Last week, two British citizens and a Moroccan were sentenced to death by a separatist court in the unrecognized Russian-speaking Donetsk People’s Republic after being caught fighting for Ukraine.