The veteran, captured during the fighting in Ukraine, talks to his family

Family members of Alexander Druke, one of two veterans were taken prisoner During fighting in eastern Ukraine earlier this month, held by Russian-backed separatists, he contacted his family by phone on Saturday, speaking directly to his mother, Bani Druke, in the first alleged contact since the video and photos the two appeared in the Russian media more than a week ago.

“It was essentially the same message as in the short film video where he turned to his mother, saying he was fine, he gets food and water, and has shelter and bedding, ”Diana Shaw, Alex’s aunt and spokeswoman, said in a statement received by late Monday night.

Andy Huyn’s fiancé’s family, Joy Black, told via text message that they also hope to talk to him, “but unfortunately that didn’t happen”. According to the families, Guyne was captured along with Druke.

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“We’re going to be positive and we think it’s a delay, not a denial,” said Darla Black, Joy’s mother.

Shaw said the Printing family receives daily briefings from the State Department about the status of the two veterans. The families of both captured veterans reported that Droyk said he and Huyne were being held in separate cells.

“The State Department has confirmed that the men are being held in the Donetsk region, a diplomatically problematic area,” the Druke family said in a statement. “Russia and the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) now control most of Donetsk, capturing the southern and northern parts, including the city of Mariupol.”

The State Department did not respond with a publication to’s request to ask if it could confirm the information in the family statement.

Over the weekend, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called the two veterans heroes, risking their lives for Ukraine’s “sovereignty and independence.”

“I’m sure we’ll fight for them and bring them back, and of course they’ll go back to their families,” he said in an interview with the Festival of Ideas in Aspen last week as reports NBChowever, it is unclear what Ukraine can do to help save the two men.

“Alex and Andy are Ukrainians Army volunteers with U.S. citizenship, “Shaw said.” Since the U.S. is “on the sidelines” of the war, the Ukrainian government must take the initiative in any possible negotiations or exchange of prisoners. “

“It is very encouraging to hear that the Ukrainian government is working to secure the release of Alex and Andy,” said Druni’s mother, Bunny. “I want to thank President Zelensky for taking their situation seriously.”

Shaw said a State Department official took the call on Saturday and passed it directly to Bunny Print.

“I’m just pleased to know that Alex is alive and to know exactly where he is,” Bunny Druke added. “Every ‘unknown’ that becomes ‘known’ is one step closer to his release.”

Before capturing them, Druke and Huyn last spoke with their families on June 8 with Alex, a 12-year-old army veteran who left for Ukraine in mid-April, and told his mother that for a day or two. ” darkens. ” Five days later, a member of their unit contacted Bunny Druke, saying they were missing, according to a family statement.

“I am encouraged that Russia seems to be paying close attention to their protocols to the Geneva Convention,” the fighter, who says he is in the volunteer detachment of the Press and Huyne in Ukraine, told “They are legitimate soldiers for Ukraine and should be given that status.”

In an interview with NBC last week Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov called Druke and Huinch “soldiers of fortune” and said the two veterinarians had no right to defend the Geneva Convention, which would prevent prosecution and the death penalty. claims by Russian officials in March. At the time, one expert called the statement a “gross distortion of international humanitarian law.”

“They should be held accountable for the crimes they have committed; these crimes must be investigated, ”Peskov told NBC, saying people had attacked Russian forces. How they found themselves in the custody of the Donetsk authorities is unclear.

“We want to believe all of these things, and Russia has a responsibility to make sure it’s all true,” Shaw said, referring to the Press that he gets food, water, shelter and bedding. “When Alex calls and says these things, he tells me that Russia knows the world is watching how they treat the two men,” she later added, suspecting the veteran was reading the script.

– You can contact Drew F. Lawrence at Follow him on Twitter @df_lawrence.

– You can contact Konstantin Taropin at Follow him on Twitter @ktoropin.

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