A U.S. veteran who was captured in Ukraine by the Russian army while voluntarily helping the country fight the invaders spoke with his mother and informed her that his captors were anxious to start negotiations for his release, the family said.
The 39-year-old veteran, Alex Drueke from Alabama, was taken prisoner while fighting the Russian army in the north of Kharkiv on June 9. Since then, Alex’s family did not have any contact with him until Tuesday when he called up his mother, Lois “Bunny” Drueke, of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and talked to her for nearly 10 minutes.
During the conversation, Alex informed that his captors were anxious to begin release talks, and he was being provided food, water and bedding, Bunny Drueke said in a statement Wednesday, as reported by NY Post.
“He sounded tired and stressed, and he was clearly reciting some things he had been made to practice or read, but it was wonderful to hear his voice and know he’s alive and all right,” Bunny Drueke said.
Along with Alex, 27-year-old Andy Huynh, another U.S. veteran also from Alabama, was taken captive and held in the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine.
Meanwhile, Alex said he did not have contact with Huynh, who is believed to be in solitary confinement. However, the news of Alex’s call has brought a sense of relief to Huynh’s family, who now hopes to hear from him.”We are still hoping to get a similar communication from Andy,” Huynh’s fiancée, Joy Black, said.
In a previous message sent through the U.S. State Department, Alex had told his mother that he was keeping well, and Huynh “looked OK” when he last saw him a few days back.
Alex’s recent call came after the leader of Donetsk, the region that is currently under Russian control, announced that there are no plans for them to swap the captured veterans, The Guardian reported.
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s press secretary, Dmitry Peskov, said that the two U.S military veterans now in their captivity will not be protected as prisoners of war under the Geneva Conventions. “They are soldiers of fortune and they were involved in illegal activities on the territory of Ukraine… They should be held responsible for those crimes that they have committed,” Peskov said in an interview with NBC News.