Alexander Drueke

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Alexander Drueke
Born 1983 (age 38–39)
Alabama
Nationality USA
Other names Alexander John-Robert Drueke[1]

Alexander Drueke is an American citizen, and veteran of the US Army, who was captured in Ukraine after volunteering to fight for Ukraine during the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine.[2] Drueke was captured near Kharkov, in mid June, 2022. In telephone calls to his family, shortly before his capture, Drueke said he was training Ukrainian fighters how to use US weapons.

Later in June Russian authorities announced Drueke was not protected by the Geneva Conventions, and could face a death penalty.[3] The Guardian and the Times of Israel quoted Russian spokesman Dmitry Peskov, who said that while Russian officials had not determined a specific crime he may have committed, he was not protected by the Geneva Conventions, because he was not a part of the Ukrainian Army.[4][5]

On September 21, 2022, Drueke, fellow American captive Andy Tai Huynh, and eight other foreign volunteers, were in a prisoner exchange.[6][7] Euronews reported the exchange took place after Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman negotiated with Russian authorities. The Washington Post reported that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan also played a role in negotiating the prisoner exchange.

On June 28, 2022, officials at the camp where Drueke was being held allowed Drueke to provide a telephone interview with Jim “Fergie” Chambers, a podcaster who had previously reported from the Donbas People's Republic.[1] Drueke told Chambers that he had travelled to aid Ukraine without fully understanding the situation.[8]

According to Euronews Drueke and Andy Tai Huynh, a veteran of the US Marine Corp, also captured in mid-June, were the first Americans Russia has confirmed it had captured.[6] Although they were believed to have been captured by Russian forces they were held by the Donetsk People's Republic - a piece of Ukraine that had been held by Russia since 2014, where it supports a puppet regime.

Euronews reports interviews with the pair which were broadcast in Russia, after their capture, in which they said they had changed their minds about the war.[6] Their families believed the comments they made in the interviews were coerced.

According to ABC News Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy had previously called the men "heroes", while Russian authorities described them as mercenaries, "who had committed crimes".[9] Three of the other eight foreign volunteers had been sentenced to death - two UK citizens and a Moroccan.[10]

In addition to Americans Drueke and Tai Huynh, and the other 8 foreigners the Russians released, they released 215 Ukrainians, including 3 pregnant women. The Ukrainians released also included approximately one hundreds members of the Azov battalion. The Azov Battalion was known for a dogged last stand they took in a fortified complex within the Azovstal steel plant, and for the Russian claim its membership was composed of dangerous neo-nazis.[10]

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 Jim “Fergie” Chambers (2022-06-28). "My conversation with American mercenary in Ukraine turned DPR POW, Alexander John-Robert Drueke". substack. https://fergie.substack.com/p/be-better-informed?r=xyql2&s=w&utm_campaign=post&utm_medium=web. Retrieved 2022-09-22. 
  2. Dan Lamothe (2022-06-15). "U.S. veterans missing in Ukraine, feared captured, families say". Washington Post. https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/2022/06/15/americans-feared-captured-russia-ukraine/. Retrieved 2022-09-22. 
  3. Yuliya Talmazan (2022-06-20). "Russia can't guarantee that American vets captured in Ukraine won’t face the death penalty". NBC News. Archived from the original on 2022-09-20. https://web.archive.org/web/20220920050833/https://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/russia-ukraineveterans-death-penalty-alexander-drueke-and-andy-huynh-rcna34372. Retrieved 2022-09-22.  mirror
  4. Peter Beaumount (2022-06-21). "US volunteer fighters captured in Ukraine could face death penalty, says Russia". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 2022-09-20. https://web.archive.org/web/20220920050545/https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/jun/21/us-volunteer-fighters-captured-in-ukraine-could-face-death-penalty-says-russia. Retrieved 2022-09-22. "The threat of the death penalty against the two men follows the sentencing to death of two Britons and a Moroccan who surrendered in Mariupol after fighting with Ukrainian forces, amid some suggestions that Russia may use the men to bargain for the release of captured Russians."  mirror
  5. "Kremlin says Americans captured in Ukraine not protected by Geneva Conventions". Times of Israel (Washington DC). 2022-06-21. Archived from the original on 2022-07-14. https://web.archive.org/web/20220714020554/https://www.timesofisrael.com/kremlin-says-americans-captured-in-ukraine-not-protected-by-geneva-conventions/. Retrieved 2022-09-22. "When pressed on what crimes the Americans had committed, Peskov admitted their specific offenses were not yet known, but claimed that they would not be covered by the Geneva conventions on prisoners of war."  mirror
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 "Russia releases U.S. citizens Alexander Drueke and Andy Huynh in prisoner exchange -family representative". Euronews. https://www.euronews.com/2022/09/22/ukraine-crisis-prisoners-saudi-usa. Retrieved 2022-09-22. 
  7. Dan Lamothe, Isabelle Khurshudyan, Karen DeYoung, Alex Horton (2022-09-21). "Americans freed in sprawling Russia-Ukraine prisoner exchange". Washington Post. https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/2022/09/21/us-veterans-alexander-drueke-andy-huynh-russia-ukriane/. Retrieved 2022-09-22. 
  8. Leada Gore (2022-06-29). "Alexander Drueke, Alabama man held by Russians, says he’s well-treated, regrets going to Ukraine". al.com. Archived from the original on 2022-07-15. https://web.archive.org/web/20220715075737/https://www.al.com/news/2022/06/alexander-drueke-alabama-man-held-by-russians-says-hes-well-treated-regrets-going-to-ukraine.html. Retrieved 2022-09-22. "Drueke reportedly told Chambers he regretted traveling to Ukraine."  mirror
  9. Mark Guarino, Meredith Deliso (2022-09-22). "Russia releases 2 Americans captured fighting in Ukraine: The two Americans were first reported missing in June.". ABC News. https://abc7news.com/alexander-drueke-andy-huynh-russia-us-soldiers-released/12247536/. Retrieved 2022-09-22. 
  10. 10.0 10.1 Valentyn Ogirenko, Aziz El Yaakoubi (2022-09-21). "Russia, Ukraine announce major surprise prisoner swap". Reuters (Kyiv / Riyadh). https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/russia-releases-10-foreigners-captured-ukraine-after-saudi-mediation-riyadh-2022-09-21/. Retrieved 2022-09-22. "The foreigners released included two Britons and a Moroccan who had been sentenced to death in June after being captured fighting for Ukraine. Also freed were three other Britons, two Americans, a Croatian, and a Swedish national." 
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