American Fighter Who Escaped Russia Returns To Ukraine

Last weekend, ABC News interviewed US veteran Alex Dreuke, one of two Americans captured by Russian forces last year while fighting in Ukraine.

Drueke, along with fellow veteran Andy Huynh, were reported missing last June while fighting with Ukrainian forces in the Kharkiv region. In September, the two Alabama natives were released after Saudi Arabia brokered a POW exchange between Russia and Ukraine.

And now, Drueke is back in Ukraine.

Over the weekend, Drueke explained to ABC News that he chose to return because Ukraine has become a “second home” to him and he wants the war to end.

But his return comes with a price.

Drueke described himself as a “marked man,” explaining that if he is captured again, he will “disappear.”

An Iraq war veteran, Drueke said his captivity was “pretty rough.” He said both he and Andy Huynh were tortured in ways he thought “only happened in movies.”

But Drueke considered himself “lucky” because he was already suffering from PTSD from his time in Iraq. He explained that he came into captivity with the “tools” and “knowledge” of that kind of trauma and how to “deal with it.”

After they were captured, Drueke and Huynh were held prisoner by pro-Russian separatists in the Donetsk People’s Republic in eastern Ukraine where they were paraded before cameras. Russian state television aired interviews with them in which they expressed sympathy for Russia and declared that they were “against war.”

Shortly after their capture, Russia announced that the two Americans were “soldiers of fortune” and would face a firing squad.

They endured 105 days of captivity awaiting their execution before Saudi Arabia brokered their release.

When asked how his family feels about his choice to return to Ukraine, Dreuke admitted that most of his family and friends were very concerned about it, but added that it was something he was compelled to do “because I want this war to end.”