BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — Days after being captured in Ukraine, footage from two Alabama military veterans has been released.
On Friday, videos featuring Alex Drueke and Andy Huynh was released on Telegram from reporters with RT, a state-run Russian media outlet. Drueke and Huhn, who are believed to be the first American prisoners of war in the Ukraine-Russia conflict, were referred to as “mercenaries.”
Drueke and Huynh were acting as volunteers with a Ukrainian unit when they were captured during an operation outside Kharviv by the Russians.
Drueke, who is originally from Tuscaloosa and spent two Army tours in Iraq, was seen in one video addressed to his mother, Lois.
“Mom, I just wanted to let you know that I’m alive and I hope to be back home as soon as I can, so love Diesel (Drueke’s dog) for me,” Drueke told RT correspondent Corr Kosarev in a video posted to Telegram. “Love you.”
Kosarev wrote the following description (translated from Russian to English through Google Translate) in the video for Drueke:
“The captured American mercenary Alexander Dryuke turned to his mother through me. He said that he was alive, and said hello to his dog named Diesel. Hope to return home. We’ll see. Watch the interview on RT soon. There are two of them, and quite recently they couldn’t even find Ukraine on the map.”
In a series of videos on Kosarev’s page, Huynh discussed surrendering to Russian forces, as well as claiming many of the Ukrainian military units “corrupt.” Huynh, a Marine who had been living in Trinity, Alabama before going to Ukraine, can be seen saying in one video claiming that media coverage of the war was “propaganda.”
“Initially, when the conflict started on February 24, I saw a lot of news, and again, I now believe that it was propaganda from the West side, not specifically just America, but the West as a whole that said that Russian forces were indiscriminately killing civilians,” Huynh said. “During my travels, I did not see that.”
Huynh’s comments run counter to what he told The Decatur Daily in April about why he wanted to go help Ukraine.
“I know it wasn’t my problem, but there was that gut feeling that I felt I had to do something,” Huynh said. “Two weeks after the war began, it kept eating me up inside and it just felt wrong. I was losing sleep. … All I could think about was the situation in Ukraine.”
Huynh claimed he was being treated humanely by his Russian captors.
“They gave us water when we needed them,” he said. “At nighttime, when we were in captivity, it got very cold and they gave us blankets to keep warm. We couldn’t move because we were bound so we don’t escape, and they would readjust our blankets, too.”
In another video, Drueke and Huynh can be seen expressing disapproval for the war, once in English and again in Russian.
“My name is Alexander Drueke, I am against war,” Drueke said.
Alabama’s members of the U.S. House and Senate have been in contact with the U.S. State Department about Drueke and Huynh.