On June 21, the U.S. State Department reported that Russian officials had not given the country any more information regarding the whereabouts of two Americans who had been held captive in Ukraine.
Spokesman Ned Price told reporters that the U.S. was pursuing every channel and every opportunity to learn more and support the families of the two Americans, who were captured earlier this month while fighting with the Ukrainian military.
The Kremlin asserted that the two men were not covered by the Geneva Conventions on the treatment of prisoners of war and hinted that they might be put to death.
The Kremlin also said on Monday that the two Americans detained in Ukraine while fighting on the Ukrainian side of the war were mercenaries who endangered the lives of Russian servicemen and should face responsibility for their actions,
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, interviewed by the U.S. television network NBC News, said, “They should be held responsible for those crimes they have committed. Those crimes have to be investigated, The only thing that is clear is that they have committed crimes.”
The two individuals, identified in U.S. reports as Andy Huynh, 27, of Hartselle, Alabama, and Alexander Drueke, 39, of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, were detained and were the subject of an inquiry prior to Peskov’s remarks.
John Kirby, the spokesperson for national security at the White House, called it “appalling that a Russian public official would even advocate the death penalty” for the Americans. He claimed that the Kremlin’s remarks were, at the absolute least, careless.
“Either way, it’s equally alarming. Whether they actually mean what they’re saying here, and that this could be an outcome, that they could levy a death penalty against two Americans that were fighting in Ukraine, or that they just feel that it’s a responsible thing for a major power to do, to talk about doing this,” he said.
Kirby decided not to elaborate on what action the United States would take if Russia failed to treat Andy Huynh, 27, and Alexander Drueke, 39, both of Alabama, as prisoners of war in accordance with the Geneva Conventions.
The men, veterans of the U.S. military, went missing while fighting near Kharkiv. Russian state media later showed video interviews with them and said they had been captured by Russia-backed separatists.
In a video, Drueke said, “Mom, I just want to let you know that I’m alive and I hope to be back home as soon as I can be, So, love Diesel for me. Love you,” he said in reference to his dog.
Since Russia began the invasion, hundreds of people from the West have offered to fight for Ukraine.
Watch it here: Youtube/NBC News