Russia says American soldiers captured in Ukraine aren’t subject to the Geneva Convention, could be put to death.
By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News
U.S. citizens captured by Russian troops while fighting in Ukraine are not subject to the Geneva Convention and could face the death penalty, a senior Kremlin official said on Tuesday.
Alexander Drueke and Andy Huynh, both U.S. army veterans from Alabama, were detained by Russian soldiers as they fought alongside Ukrainian soldiers in the Kharkiv region on June 8.
“We are talking about mercenaries who threatened the lives of our service personnel,” Russian press secretary Dmitry Peskov said in a statement.
“And not only ours, but also the service personnel of the DPR and LPR,” he added, referring to the breakaway Donbass and Luhansk republics in eastern Ukraine.
When a reporter asked if Drueke and Huynh would be executed, Peskov said that move would be up to the Russian judicial system.
“We can’t rule anything out, because these are court decisions,” he said. “We don’t comment on them and have no right to interfere.”
Russian Foreign Ministry spokesmen have repeatedly said that any non-Ukrainian national soldiers captured fighting in the country would not enjoy the protections of the Geneva Convention, which outlines humane treatment for prisoners of war.
Non-Ukrainian fighters would be considered mercenaries in the eyes of Russia, the Kremlin has said, which means that they would not be granted the rights provide to legitimate combatants under the Geneva Convention.
“They’re soldiers of fortune and they were involved in illegal activities on the territory of Ukraine,” Peskov told NBC News in an interview on Monday regarding the captured Americans.
“They were involved in firing and shelling our military personnel. They were endangering their lives,” he said.
The pair “should be held responsible for those crimes that they have committed,” he added. “Those crimes have to be investigated.”
John Kirby, National Security Council coordinator for strategic communications, told reporters, “It’s appalling that a public official in Russia would even suggest the death penalty for American citizens … in Ukraine.”
Two British nationals and one Moroccan citizen who were captured while fighting with the Ukrainian army were recently sentenced to death.
The three men, who all pleaded guilty, were put on trial in the Russian-controlled Donbass region of Ukraine.
Some 20,000 volunteers from 52 countries have joined the Ukrainian army’s Foreign Legion and various militia groups in the country.
Tens of thousands of Syrian mercenaries have reportedly registered to fight alongside Russian forces in Ukraine.