Update: There is now an interview video with Andy Huynh.
Update: Two very short video clips are now circulating on social media. The both say “I am against war” in Russia.
According to the US State Department, at least one American citizen is KIA in Ukraine, and three are MIA and suspected of being POWs. All four are veterans of the US Marine Corps. The State Department says they can’t reach out and ask if they have American POWs because they cut off all communications with Russia.
However, a photo from Russian social media appears to confirm that Robert Drueke, 39, and Andy Huynh, 27 are indeed prisoners of war. The pair went missing in a village near Kharkov on June 9th.
Russia also has at least 3 British, 1 Moroccan, and 1 South Korean foreign fighter in custody. A video published by the US State Department’s Radio Liberty featured foreign fighters on the ground of the Azot Chemical plant in Severodonetsk’s sprawling industrial park. The video was first published on June 3rd, but the footage may have already been up to a week old when it was published. If these foreign fighters are still present, they will likely soon be captured as well. The area is surrounded, and negotiations are underway between Russian forces and the embattled Ukrainian soldiers in the park.
Russia and Ukraine have exchanged about 450 POWs each since the beginning of the war. Ukraine is only believed to have around 500 Russian POWs left. Russia is believed to have taken 4,500 – 5,000 prisoners from Mariupol alone. New videos of Ukrainian soldiers surrendering in the Donbas region are published almost daily on Russian social media.
As many as 15,000 Ukrainian soldiers are being enclosed in a cauldron in the Lysychansk/Serodonetsk area. This is the final part of Ukrainian-held Lugansk Oblast. Within the cauldron, there are three smaller cauldrons around the Severodonetsk industrial park, the suburban area south of Severodonetsk, and the villages of Zolote and Girsk south of Lysychansk. There is a growing controversy over why troops were not evacuated from these areas weeks ago.
Some leaders in Kiev view Severodonetsk as highly symbolic for the Ukrainian side. The city voted to secede from Ukraine in 2014. After two months of fighting with separatists, from May 22nd to July 24th, 2014, the Ukrainian national guard seized control of the city. Later, Ukraine made it the new capital of Lugansk Oblast after failing to retake the city of Lugansk.