The Kremlin says Americans captured in Ukraine are not protected by the Geneva Conventions

WASHINGTON – Two Americans captured in Ukraine while fighting with the Kiev army were “endangering” Russian soldiers and should be “held responsible for those crimes,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Monday in an interview with NBC. News.

The interview marks the first time the Kremlin has commented on the cases of Alexander Drueke and Andy Huynh, both US military veterans, according to NBC.

“They are soldiers of fortune and have been involved in illegal activities on the territory of Ukraine. They were involved in the fire and shelling of our military personnel. They were putting their lives in danger, “Peskov told the network in English.

“They should be held accountable for those crimes they committed,” he added in the first snippets of the interview released.

“These crimes must be investigated.”

When pressed about what crimes the Americans had committed, Peskov admitted their specific crimes were not yet known, but said they would not be covered by the Geneva Conventions on prisoners of war.

“They are not [in the] The Ukrainian army, therefore, is not subject to the Geneva Conventions, “said the Kremlin spokesman.

Last week, a Russian state television channel aired social media videos of Drueke and Huynh.

The circumstances in which the two men were being held were not entirely clear, nor who was holding them specifically. Peskov would only say that they were held by “authorities”.

As for whether they could be sentenced to death, Peskov said: “It depends on the investigation.”

Screen capture from video of former US soldier Andy Huynh being captured by Russian forces during fighting in Ukraine. (Youtube)

US President Joe Biden said Friday that he did not know the whereabouts of Drueke and Huynh, who are believed to have joined other foreigners in volunteering alongside Ukrainian troops.

A US State Department spokesman on Saturday confirmed that US authorities had seen photos and videos of the two US citizens “captured by Russian military forces in Ukraine”.

“We are closely monitoring the situation and our hearts are with their families at this difficult time,” the spokesperson told AFP.

On the case of WNBA superstar Brittney Griner, who is being held in custody in Russia on drug charges, Peskow vehemently rejected the idea of ​​being held hostage.

“We can’t call her a hostage. Why should we call her a hostage? She violated Russian law and now she is being prosecuted, “the Kremlin spokesman said.

Griner, a two-time Olympic gold medalist and WNBA champion, was detained at Moscow airport in February on charges of carrying cannabis oil vaporizer cartridges in her luggage, which could lead to a 10-year prison sentence. .

Washington says Russia “wrongly arrested” 31-year-old Griner and turned her case over to the US special envoy responsible for the hostages.

His pre-trial detention was extended until 2 July.

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