Biden says he has been briefed on Americans missing in Ukraine and urges not to travel to the country

In brief remarks to reporters as he departed for a beach weekend in Delaware, Biden has repeatedly said that Americans should not travel to Ukraine at this time.

“We don’t know where they are, but I want to repeat: Americans shouldn’t go to Ukraine right now,” Biden said in response to a question from CNN’s MJ Lee at the White House.

Wednesday, CNN reported Alexander John Robert Drwick, 39, of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and Andy Tay Ngoc Huen, 27, of Hartselle, Alabama, have been missing for nearly a week and there were fears they might be captured by Russian forces, according to their families and comrades. fighters. Druik and Huynh were fighting alongside Ukrainian forces north of Kharkiv.
CNN reported on Thursday Third American The State Department identified as missing in action in Ukraine is US Marine Corps veteran Grady Corbasi. He served in the United States Marine Corps for 20 years, retiring in November 2021. A Corbasi family friend told CNN that Corbasi chose to volunteer alongside Ukrainian forces, but initially did not envision himself fighting on the front lines of the war.

State Department spokesman Ned Price said the department was in contact with the families of the missing Americans, as well as the Ukrainian authorities and the International Committee of the Red Cross.

Alexander Drake’s mother, Bani Drake, told CNN that the US State Department had told the family of an American missing in Ukraine that there was possible evidence that Drake had been arrested, but they were unable to verify the photo at the time.

Drwick told CNN’s Jake Taber 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’d get bolder with each success, and that in the end they might end up on the beaches.” American”.

A photo emerged Thursday of Druik and Huynh in the back of a Russian military truck, apparently confirming they were seized by Russian forces north of Kharkiv last week. A Russian blogger posted the photo to Telegram on Thursday, but CNN was unable to independently verify the date it was taken.

On Friday, videos appeared on pro-Russian channels and on social media showing that Drewic and Huynh are being held in an unknown location. It is not clear who is holding them.

In a short undated clip shared on the pro-Russia Telegram channel, ZOV Team, a man identified himself as Drueke. In a separate video, also undated on the Russian news channel Izvestia, Huynh spoke a few sentences.

While the men do not appear to be in poor health or ill-treated, it is clear that both speak under duress.

A State Department spokesperson told CNN Friday that they had “viewed photos and videos of these two US citizens who were reportedly captured by Russian military forces in Ukraine.”

“We are closely monitoring the situation and our thoughts are with their families at this difficult time,” they said.

“We are in contact with the Ukrainian authorities, the International Committee of the Red Cross and the families themselves,” they added. “Due to privacy considerations, we have no further comment on these cases.”

The spokesperson reiterated that “US citizens should not travel to Ukraine due to the active armed conflict and the singling out of US citizens in Ukraine by Russian government security officials, and US citizens in Ukraine should leave immediately if it is safe to do so using any commercial or other ground transportation options.” available to the private sector.

On Thursday, Price said the United States was not in contact with Russia about the American citizens who were reportedly being held because they did not yet have “reasonable reason” to believe that the Russians had captured them and also because Russia did not claim to have captured them.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told CNN earlier on Friday that he knew nothing of the American fighters.

CNN has repeatedly contacted the Russian Ministry of Defense for comment but has yet to receive a response.

This story has been updated with additional developments.

CNN’s Eli Kaufman, Michael Conti, Jennifer Hansler, and Mick Kriever contributed to this report.

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