According to Russian state media, two U.S. volunteer fighters for Ukraine were detained in Donetsk by Russian-backed separatists last week after being captured by Russian forces.
Alexander John Robert Druck, a 39-year-old U.S. citizen from Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and Andy Tai Nguk Haven, a 27-year-old from Hartsley, Alabama, were interviewed by Russia’s RT Channel at the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) detention center. According to a report published on RT on Friday.
Missing near Kharkiv: The two Americans went missing on June 9 during a battle north of Kharkiv, and their families and a fellow fighter said they feared they had been captured by Russian forces.
Video exposure: Short video clips surfaced on pro-Russian channels and on social media on Friday showing the men detained at an unknown location. It was not immediately clear who was holding them.
A State Department spokesman told CNN on Friday that he had seen pictures and videos of two American citizens who were allegedly captured by Russian troops in Ukraine.
“We are keeping a close eye on the situation and our hearts are going with his family in this difficult time,” he said.
“We are in contact with the Ukrainian authorities, the International Committee of the Red Cross, and the family itself … for privacy concerns, we have no further comment on these matters.”
In addition, a more than 50-minute edited video was released on Saturday in which Drok and Hwan were interviewed by the pro-Russian Serbian nationalist YouTube channel HelmCast.
Donetsk: In the interview, a man can be heard behind the camera revealing the location of his interview when he says “here in Donetsk” during a question to Droke.
Beaten during detention: Drucker was also asked in an interview if he had any objections to how he had been treated since his capture, and he revealed that he had been beaten several times.
Why their location is important: The location of Droke and Haven’s detention is likely to be related to development. Russia’s state-run media, the RIA Novosti, says the death penalty is banned in Russia, while Donetsk uses firing squads to execute executed prisoners.
Foreign fighters: On June 9, a DPR court sentenced foreign fighters, two British nationals and a Moroccan national to death for being “mercenaries” for Ukraine. The internationally unrecognized court in the DPR said these individuals have one month to appeal.
Prisoner exchange dash: It is hoped that the exchange of prisoners between Ukraine and pro-Russian separatists could lead to the release of any foreign fighters detained in Donetsk, said DPR’s self-proclaimed head Denis Peshilin. Are out
“The DPR is not talking about the transfer of British men who have been sentenced to death, there is no reason to pardon them,” Pushkin told the independent Russian investigative newspaper Novaya Gazeta on Thursday.
The Donetsk People’s Republic did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Droke and Haven’s detention.
CNN is choosing not to broadcast videos of American detainees because they show men speaking under duress.