In brief remarks to reporters as he left for a weekend on the beach in Delaware, Biden said repeatedly Americans should not travel to Ukraine at this time.
“We don’t know where they are, but I want to reiterate: Americans should not be going to Ukraine now,” Biden said in response to a question from CNN’s MJ Lee at the White House.
On Wednesday CNN reported that Alexander John-Robert Drueke, 39, from Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and Andy Tai Ngoc Huynh, 27, from Hartselle, Alabama, had been missing for nearly a week and there were fears that they may have been captured by Russian forces, according to their families and a fellow fighter. Drueke and Huynh had been fighting alongside Ukrainian forces north of Kharkiv.
CNN on Thursday reported a third American whom the State Department had identified as missing in action in Ukraine was US Marine veteran Grady Kurpasi. He served in the US Marine Corps for 20 years, retiring in November 2021. A family friend of Kurpasi’s told CNN Kurpasi chose to volunteer alongside the Ukrainian forces but initially did not envision himself fighting on the front lines of the war.
State Department spokesperson Ned Price said the department is in contact with the families of the missing Americans as well as Ukrainian authorities and the International Committee of the Red Cross.
The US State Department on Thursday told the family of one of the Americans missing in Ukraine that there is potential evidence Drueke was captured, but could not verify the photo at the time, Bunny Drueke, Alexander’s mother, told CNN.
Drueke told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “The Lead” that her son went to Ukraine to train soldiers there to fight against Russia because “he felt that if Putin wasn’t stopped now, he would just become bolder with every success, and that eventually he might end up on American shores.”
A photo emerged on Thursday of Drueke and Huynh in the back of a Russian military truck, apparently confirming they had been captured by Russian forces north of Kharkiv last week. CNN could not independently verify when the photo was taken. The undated photo was posted on Telegram on Thursday by a Russian blogger.
Price said Thursday the US is not in contact with Russia about the reportedly captured American citizens because they do not yet have “credible reason” to believe the Russians have captured them and also because Russia has not claimed to have captured them.