Russia: Geneva Conventions don’t apply to Americans captured in Ukraine

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Two Americans who fought for Ukraine before being captured by Russia will not benefit from the protections granted to prisoners of war by the Geneva Conventions, the Kremlin spokesman said Monday.

Alexander J. Drueke and Andy Tai Huynh were “involved in shooting and shelling” Russian troops and “should be held accountable for the crimes they committed,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said in a statement. an interview with NBC News on Monday.

The Geneva Conventions protect prisoners of war from torture, summary execution and prosecution for having fought in a war. But Peskov said the Americans “are not the Ukrainian army” and “are not subject to the Geneva Conventions”.

Responding to Peskov, the US State Department said in a statement: “We call on the Russian government – as well as its proxies – to uphold their international obligations in the treatment of any individual, including those captured fighting in Ukraine. “.

Peskov accused Drueke, 39, and Huynh, 27 – both US military veterans from Alabama – of being ‘soldiers of fortune’ or mercenaries, and said Russian or Russian-aligned authorities would investigate. on their cases. Although Peskov told NBC their fate “depends on the investigation,” he also said Drueke and Huynh would “suffer the same fate” as two British citizens and a Moroccan who were sentenced to death earlier this month by police. Kremlin-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine.

“These guys on the battlefield were shooting at our military. They were putting their lives at risk,” Peskov said. “There will be a court, and there will be a court decision.”

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Prior to his capture, Drueke told those close to him that he was teaching Ukrainian troops how to use American weapons. “He didn’t go there to fight, but to train,” his mother, Lois Drueke, told The Washington Post.

Huynh volunteered to fight alongside Ukrainian troops, according to Joy Black, who identified herself as Huynh’s fiancée.

On June 8, the two men announced to their relatives that they would be incommunicado for several days while carrying out a mission. Family members later told the Post that the couple disappeared near the Russian border.

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Drueke, who previously served in the U.S. Army Reserve and deployed to the Middle East, suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder since returning home but hoped to find meaning in combat in Ukraine, his mother said.

Huynh served in the US Marine Corps for four years, according to service officials.

It is not known how many Americans have pledged to fight for Ukraine. Shortly after the conflict began in late February, Ukrainian officials said around 4,000 people had expressed an interest in doing so.

At least two US citizens were killed in the fighting: Marine Corps veteran Willy Joseph Cancel, 22, of Tennessee, and Stephen D. Zabielski, 52, of Florida.

Dan Lamothe contributed to this report.

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