Former U.S. Marine Corps officer Grady Kurpasi, who has not been heard from since April 23, is the third American to be reported missing in Ukraine this week.
State Department spokesperson Ned Price announced during a press conference on Thursday that a third American had gone missing, although the name was not said.
Kurpasi’s wife confirmed to CNN, however, that it was her 49-year-old husband who had been identified as missing.
Kurpasi arrived in Ukraine on March 7 after deciding to volunteer as a soldier in the Ukrainian war. Having served in the U.S. Marine Corps for 20 years before retiring in November 2021, he felt that his skillset would be valuable to the cause.
He arrived in the country’s capital of Kyiv by March 21, and close friends reported last hearing from him April 23 and 24.
According to a family friend, Kurpasi started “receiving small arms fire” on April 26 while stationed at an observation post, suggesting they were in crossfires with the Russian army.
The last known communication with the veteran was when he had radioed the Ukrainian military to begin firing back.
The other two American soldiers reported missing include Andy Huynh, 27, and Alexander Drueke, 39, both from Alabama and both of whom have military experience.
Unlike Kurpasi, videos of Huynh and Drueke surfaced on Friday on RT, a Russian state-controlled international television network, showing they had been captured by Russian forces. RT broadcast that the two were being held by Russian-backed separatist forces in the Donbass region of eastern Ukraine.
Despite the protections for prisoners of war under the Geneva Conventions, including the guarantee of humane treatment and fair trials, the Russian military has responded that foreign fighters, including the captured Americans, are considered mercenaries and are not protected.
When asked to comment about the captures of American soldier volunteers, Biden reiterated on Friday, “I’ll say it again, Americans should not be going to Ukraine.”
Featured Image via U.S. Dept. of Defense