FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 5, 2022
Contact: Dianna Shaw, 205-764-3434, firstname.lastname@example.org
Additional Calls from Captured U.S. Volunteer Shed Light
Alex Drueke, former U.S. soldier being held captive by Russian-backed forces in the Donetsk region of Ukraine, telephoned his mother Bunny Drueke directly on Tuesday, June 28, 2022, and again Thursday, June 30 and Tuesday, July 5. Each time they spoke for just under 10 minutes.
In the most recent call, Drueke and his mother spoke for 9 minutes 55 seconds. Drueke told his mother that he had also just spoken with someone at the U.S. Department of State and left a voice mail at the U.S. Embassy of Ukraine, which is located in Poland. He reiterated a point from his previous calls to Mrs. Drueke that his captors are willing to start negotiations for release.
“This seems to be the pattern,” Dianna Shaw, Drueke’s aunt, said. “His captors place calls to government agencies first, have him state that they are open to negotiations, and then Alex is given 10 minutes to talk to his mom.”
Drueke and Andy Huynh, the U.S. citizen and former Marine captured alongside Drueke, are being held in the Donetsk region, a troublesome area from a diplomatic standpoint. Russia and the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) currently control the majority of Donetsk. The U.S. does not recognize the DPR as a sovereign state and has no diplomatic relations with the DPR, complicating arrangements for a release.
“We have been so encouraged to hear President Zelenskyy and other Ukrainian officials call Alex and Andy heroes and vowing to work for their release,” Mrs. Shaw said. “Ukraine is in a position to take the lead with negotiations, and we’re grateful they are speaking out.”
“Alex sounded tired and business like [in the July 5 call],” Mrs. Drueke said. “He seemed to choose his words carefully, but he didn’t sound like he was reading from a script,” she said.
The call consisted mostly of her asking questions and him providing generally worded responses. For example, when she asked him what kind of food he is getting, Drueke replied, “Enough…it’s OK.”
Mrs. Drueke asked if he has seen or spoken with Huynh. He replied that he had seen Huynh last week during “interviews” and that Huynh looked “healthy” when he saw him.
In the June 30 call Drueke said he expected to meet on July 4 with a lawyer assigned to him by his captors. In the July 5 call, Mrs. Drueke asked how that had gone. Drueke said he did not meet with the lawyer as expected, adding, “Not sure what’s going on with that.”
The mother and son had a light moment when she told him that his dog Diesel is getting famous from media coverage. Drueke replied, “Good for him, good for him!” and he added “They ask if I have a family and I tell them I don’t have a wife and kids but I do have family and I have a dog.” Diesel is a 100+ pound part-Mastiff rescue that Drueke originally planned to foster, but quickly officially adopted.
At the end of the call, Drueke once again asked his mother to keep doing “anything you can to get the release going.”
Russian state-run media outlets report having spoken with Drueke. “He warned me when he went to Iraq, and again when he arrived in Ukraine, that if he ever were to be captured that he might be made to say things to remain safe,” Mrs. Drueke explained. “He told me the only thing I should ever believe him saying is ‘I love you, Mom.’”
The Drueke family continues to receive regular briefings from the U.S. State Department, the U.S. Embassy to Ukraine (located in Poland), the International Committee of the Red Cross, their congressional representatives, and other organizations.
Drueke left the U.S. in mid-April, legally entering Poland and making contact with Ukrainian forces from there to volunteer. He moved from unit to unit, helping train Ukrainian soldiers in using the equipment they were receiving from other nations.
Mrs. Drueke received a phone call on June 13 from another member of the unit her son had been with to inform her the unit had come under fire and scattered, and that Drueke and Huynh were as of yet unaccounted for. Two days later, photos and videos began surfacing on Ukrainian and Russian social media showing the two men in captivity.