DOTHAN, AL (WSFA) - Tensions continue to escalate between the Ukraine and Russia following the naval sea clash. Twenty-four Ukrainian sailors were captured Sunday by Russia off the coast of Crimea and one of those sailors has ties to the Wiregrass.
There was a time when Ludmyla Strickland knew exactly where her 18-year-old nephew, Andrey Eider was, surrounded with love by his family in Ukraine. Now, miles away in Dothan, she has no idea where he is or how he is doing.
“I got a call from my brother who told me he has bad news. Andrey was captured by the Russians,” said Strickland.
The news was difficult for the family to process.
“When my mom came in and told me quietly,” said Sophia Strickland, cousin, “I didn’t know how to feel. I was just shocked and kind of scared for him.”
The sailors were traveling from the Ukrainian port in Odessa to Mariupol when they were attacked by Russia border patrol. Although Ukraine says they followed international maritime rules, Russia says the crews entered the territory illegally.
“One of the vessels was attacked hard. My nephew was on this vessel,” said Ludmyla.
The family says the last update they got on Andrey’s condition was Monday when he called his girlfriend to tell her he had undergone surgery.
Since then they have heard nothing and with no prisoner of war title for the sailors, the family fears answers won’t come.
“We need our boy back. Please help us Mr. President,” said Ludmyla.
The president tweeted Thursday he would not meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin during the G-20 summit, but the family is hoping their plea in a letter is enough to sway him to step in.
“We appeal to you as the president of the country, where law and justice rule, to help save our grandson, nephew, cousin, and fearless warrior of Ukraine, him and his mates,” said Sophia.
Below is a copy of the letter the family sent to Trump: