Two U.S. military veterans from Alabama who went to Ukraine to help beat back the Russian invasion are missing and feared to have been captured by Russian troops or Russian-backed separatists, their family members said.

Andy Tai Ngoc Huynh, 27, of Trinity, Alabama, and Alexander Drueke, 39, of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, haven’t been heard from for days after being in the Kharkiv region of northeastern Ukraine, near the Russian border, family members say.

Huynh’s fiancé, Joy Black, said Huynh told her on June 8 that he would be unavailable for a few days. On Monday she was informed that Huynh and Drueke missed their rendezvous and they were in an area that was hit hard by Russian aerial assaults.

“He went over there to volunteer because he really cares,” Black told WAAY-TV in Alabama. “This had been really weighing as a heavy burden on his heart for quite a while before he left. He wanted to go and do what was right.”

The State Department said it was monitoring the “unconfirmed” rep and was in contact with Ukrainian authorities. White House spokesman John Kirby stressed that the U.S. discourages Americans from fighting for Ukraine.

“It is a war zone. It is combat,” Kirby said. “If you feel passionate about supporting Ukraine there is any number of other ways to do that that are safer and just as effective. Ukraine is not the place for Americans to be traveling.”

USA TODAY ON TELEGRAM: Join our Russia-Ukraine war channel to receive updates straight to your phone

Latest developments

►Japanese budget airline Zipair Tokyo is dropping the “Z” logo on its aircraft because it has become a pro-invasion symbol in Russia.

►NHL officials will not allow the Stanley Cup to travel to Russia or Belarus this summer, foregoing the unofficial tradition allowing players from those countries to travel there while spending a day with the cup. Officials informed both the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Colorado Avalanche of the decision.

►President Joe Biden on Wednesday asked oil producers to reduce the cost of gas, telling them in a letter that “amid a war that has raised gasoline prices more than $1.70 per gallon, historically high refinery profit margins are worsening that pain.”

French, German, Italian leaders in Ukraine, see ‘stigmata of barbarism

French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Italian Premier Mario Draghi have arrived in Ukraine to meet with  President Volodymyr Zelenskyy today as they prepare for a European Union leaders’ summit in Brussels next week and a June 29-30 NATO summit in Madrid, Spain.

Macron tweeted video of the devastation in Irpin, a city of 60,000 people about 15 miles west of Kyiv.

“We saw the devastated city and the stigmata of barbarism,” Macron wrote. “And the heroism, too, of the Ukrainians who stopped the Russian army as it descended on Kyiv. Ukraine resists. She must be able to win.”

Allies pledging further Ukraine support, US military leaders say

Dozens of countries are joining the U.S. in boosting their commitment to supporting Ukraine’s efforts to fight off the Russian invasion, U.S. military leaders said Wednesday after meeting with 50 allies in Brussels.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, appearing with Army Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, announced the Pentagon will send $1 billion in weapons to help Ukraine’s effort to blunt Russia’s offensive in the eastern Donbas region.

The package, the 12th approved by Biden since August, includes long-range, rocket-assisted artillery, Harpoon anti-ship missiles and more conventional howitzer cannons and ammunition. U.S. allies also pledged to continue backing the Ukrainian military.

“The international community is not allowing this unambiguous act of aggression by Russia to go unanswered,” Milley said.

The Ukrainians have said they more need long-range and conventional artillery, armored vehicles and anti-aircraft systems, Austin said.

“It’s never enough,” Austin said. “And so we’re going to continue to work hard to moving as much capability as we can, as fast as we can.”

– Tom Vanden Brook

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *