Two US volunteers in Ukraine feared capture by Russia
Two American volunteers in Ukraine have disappeared and are believed to have been captured by Russia, officials and family members said Wednesday.
Alexander Drueke, 39, and Andy Tai Ngoc Huynh, 27, are both US military veterans who lived in Alabama and went to Ukraine to help with the war effort. Relatives have contacted the Senate and House Offices for information on the men’s whereabouts.Alexander Drueke, 39, and Andy Tai Ngoc Huynh, 27, are both US military veterans who have traveled to Ukraine to help with the war effort. Composed: Reuters/Associated Press
The couple have not been heard from for days, members of the state’s congressional delegation said.
If confirmed, they would be the first Americans fighting for Ukraine known to have been captured since the war began in February.
The US promises another arms package worth $1 billion
US President Joe Biden earlier announced new arms packages worth $1 billion for Ukraine after Kyiv asked for help on the eastern and southern fronts.
The support package confirmed Wednesday includes 18 additional howitzers with tactical vehicles to tow them, 36,000 rounds of 155mm ammunition for the howitzers and two Harpoon coastal defense systems, the Defense Department said.
This morning I spoke to President Zelensky to discuss Russia’s brutal and ongoing war against Ukraine. I reiterated our commitment to stand by Ukraine and announced that the United States is providing over $1.2 billion in additional security and humanitarian assistance.
— President Biden (@POTUS) June 16, 2022
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the alliance was “extremely focused on increasing support” for Ukraine.
While Ukraine has welcomed the new pledges, it says the supplies are not coming fast enough.
Recent shipments of M777 howitzers from the United States have been short and Ukraine remains outnumbered, officials said.
I have just finished hosting a very productive third meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group. 50 countries – our highest number to date – joined me in Brussels to discuss how we can bolster support for Ukraine as it defends itself against Russia’s unprovoked invasion. (1/5) pic.twitter.com/PVMLdkCHNx
— Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III (@SecDef) June 16, 2022
Chancellor Olaf Scholz, French President Emmanuel Macron and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi are on their way to Ukraine this morning.
The group reportedly took a night train from Poland and were photographed in one of the train’s compartments.
Updated on 01/06 BST
EU leaders visit Kyiv to show their support for Ukraine
The leaders of the European Union’s three largest countries, Germany, France and Italy, are expected in Kyiv on Thursday to show their support for Ukraine, which is struggling to withstand a relentless Russian onslaught.
The visit of German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, French President Emmanuel Macron and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi has taken weeks to organize the three men trying to overcome criticism within Ukraine of their response to the war.
The expected trip, which has not been announced for security reasons, comes a day before the European Commission is due to issue a recommendation on Ukraine’s status as an EU candidate country, something Europe’s biggest nations have been lukewarm about.
Macron said in Romania on Wednesday that it was time for Europe to reassure Ukraine about its EU ambitions.
“We have come to a point where we Europeans must send clear political signals to Ukraine and its people if they resist heroically,” he said, without giving details.
Russia and the United States need to talk about extending the START nuclear weapons reduction treatyKremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told the RIA news agency in an interview on Thursday.
The matter is important for global security and Russia’s military operation in Ukraine is no reason to avoid discussing it, Peskov added.
When asked about the possibility of nuclear war, Peskov said, “I believe that the media today should be professional enough not to ask such questions, and those being interviewed should be smart enough not to answer such questions.”
Summary and welcome
The leaders of the European Union’s three largest countries, Germany, France and Italy, are expected in Kyiv today to show their support for Ukraine, which is struggling to withstand a relentless Russian onslaught.
- NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the allies would continue to supply Ukraine with heavy weapons and long-range systems, with agreement on a new aid package for Kyiv expected at the Madrid summit later this month. The deal will help Ukraine switch from old Soviet-era weapons to “more modern NATO standard equipment,” he said. Stoltenberg was addressing a meeting of defense ministers from NATO and other countries in Brussels to discuss and coordinate aid to Ukraine.
- At the meeting in Brussels, the US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said Ukraine is facing a “crucial battlefield moment” in Sievierodonetsk, with Russian forces using long-range weapons to try to overwhelm Ukrainian positions. Austin urged America and its allies to “not slow down and lose steam” and “intensify our collective commitment to Ukraine’s self-defense.”
- China’s Xi Jinping has pledged China’s support for Russia’s “sovereignty and security” to Vladimir Putin, prompting Washington to warn Beijing it risks ending up “on the wrong side of history.” China is “ready to continue to support each other [to Russia] on issues affecting core interests and major concerns such as sovereignty and security,” state broadcaster CCTV reported, as Xi said during a phone call with Putin. The US State Department spokesman replied: “China claims to be neutral, but its behavior makes it clear that it still invests in close ties with Russia.”
- Turkey has said it is ready to host a quadripartite meeting with the United Nations, Russia and Ukraine to organize grain exports through the Black Sea, saying safe routes could be formed without mines around Ukrainian ports having to vacate. Foreign Minister Mevlut Çavuşoğlu said it will “take some time” to clear Ukrainian ports and that a safe sea corridor can now be established in areas without mines. “Since the location of the mines is known, certain security lines would be set up at three ports,” he said. “Ships could safely enter and leave ports under the guidance of the Ukrainian research and rescue ships, as planned in the plan, without having to clear the mines.”
- Two US veterans from Alabama who were in Ukraine to help in the war against Russia have not been heard from in days and are missing, members of the state’s congressional delegation said. John Kirby, a White House national security spokesman, said the government could not confirm the reports of missing Americans. “We will do our best to monitor this and see what we can learn about it,” he said.
- European unity over the war in Ukraine is at risk as public attention shifts from the battlefield to concerns about the cost of living, polls in 10 European countries show. The poll found that support for Ukraine remains high but concerns have shifted to the wider implications of the conflict, with the gap widening between voters who want the conflict to end quickly and those who want punishment Russia’s want, deepened.