Kremlin press secretary says Geneva Conventions would not apply to two Americans feared captured in Ukraine

Kremlin press secretary Dmitry Peskov said on Monday that the Geneva Conventions, a series of agreements on, among other things, international standards for the treatment of people captured during war, would not apply to the two Americans. . it is believed that he was captured by Russian or pro-Russian forces in Ukraine in recent weeks. Peskov’s comments come days after Russian media posted video appearing to show the two men, Alexander Drueke, 39, and Andy Huynh, 27.

peskov told Keir Simmons of NBC News that he regards the two men as “soldiers of fortune” who did not enlist in the Ukrainian army, meaning, he said, that Russia does not believe they are protected by the Geneva Conventions. Asked if Russia knows for sure that the two men were not members of the Ukrainian military, Peskov said the matter will be “investigated in due course.”

It also alleged that the two men, as a result of their alleged mercenary status, were involved in “illegal activities”, including shooting and bombing members of the Russian military.

“They should be held accountable for the crimes they have committed,” he said.

Concern started to grow about the whereabouts of Huynh, who served in the Marine Corps, and Drueke, an Iraq War veteran, last week. Fellow soldiers told Britain’s The Telegraph newspaper that the pair were volunteering with a foreign fighter unit in the Ukrainian army when they went missing.

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US military veterans Andy Tai Ngoc Huynh and Alexander Drueke left their homes in Alabama to serve with the Ukrainian Army on the battlefield. They were reportedly captured by Russian forces during fighting in eastern Ukraine in June 2022.

In early June, a Moroccan and two British fighters who had been captured were sentenced to death firing squad for fighting alongside Ukrainian forces. The three men were tried and sentenced in a Russian-backed separatist court in Donetsk, one of Ukraine’s two main Donbas regions.

Asked if he could promise that Huynh and Drueke would not face the same sentence, Peskov said he “can’t guarantee anything.”

“It depends on the investigation,” he said.

The US State Department said last week that it is also investigating reports of a third American missing in Ukraine. A family friend identified the person as Retired Marine Capt. Grady Kurpasi, a 20-year veteran of the US Army.

Peskov in his interview with Simmons also talked about Brittney Griner, the American WNBA star who was arrested in russia in February for allegedly carrying vape cartridges containing cannabis-derived oil. Since then, Griner’s pre-trial detention period has been extended several times.

When Simmons said the US government is now treating Griner’s detention as a hostage situation, Peskov said he “would disagree” with that characterization.

“We can’t call her a hostage,” he said. “Why should we call her a hostage? She broke Russian law and now she is being prosecuted. She is not about being a hostage.”

Chris Livesay contributed reporting.

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