The U.S. Embassy in Russia was this week urging the Kremlin to reveal the whereabouts of two Alabama men captured in Ukraine while defending the country from Russian invaders, according to the mother of one of the captured Americans .
Lois “Bunny” Drueke also said Wednesday evening that her son, Alexander Drueke, and the other captured US military veteran, Andy Tai Ngoc Huynh, were not mercenaries but volunteers, rebuffing statements from a spokesperson. from the Kremlin who said the American couple faced execution.
Therefore, Drueke’s mother added, he and Huynh deserve the humane treatment demanded by the treaties collectively known as the Geneva Conventions despite Russia’s claims that they do not apply to Americans taking part in the conflict. in Ukraine.
“Alex and Andy are prisoners of war and should be afforded protections and humane treatment accordingly,” Bunny Drueke said.
His statements came a day after Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov accused Drueke and Huynh of being soldiers of fortune who had ‘threatened the lives’ of military service members from Russia and its people’s republics. controlled and self-proclaimed from Donetsk and Luhansk.
Russian media claimed that pro-Russian separatist forces were holding Drueke and Huynh, although Peskov denied that the Kremlin knew the location of the two Americans.
Drueke, 39, and Huynh, 27, were imprisoned by Russian forces during a battle north of Kharkiv on June 9. They were shown late last week on Russian television at a detention center in the Donetsk republic, before Peskov claimed he did not know where Drueke and Huynh were.
According to his mother, Drueke – who served two tours in Iraq with the US military – arrived in Ukraine after passing through Poland in mid-April. He had taught Ukrainian soldiers how to use weapons they received from other nations as they repelled invading Russians from February.
Taking aim at the portrayal of the Kremlin as a well-paid mercenary, Bunny Drueke said that sometimes his son’s “only meal was what a Ukrainian villager could share at his own table”.
Russia and its allies in Ukraine have claimed that the captured foreign fighters are mercenaries, so the Geneva conventions do not apply to them. But Drueke, Huynh and others facing the death penalty served in Ukraine’s armed forces, which means they are entitled to humane treatment as prisoners of war.
Russia has a moratorium on the death penalty, but the break does not extend to the Donetsk Republic.
On the same day as the capture of Drueke and Huynh, who previously served in the US Marines, a court in Donetsk sentenced two Britons and a Moroccan national to death after they were caught fighting for Ukraine.
Drueke’s aunt, Dianna Shaw, said her family was heartened by the international attention given to Russia’s treatment of those captured while defending Ukraine. For her nephew’s 40th birthday this week, she asked Americans to call their congressional representatives and ask them to support Alabama Senator Richard Shelby’s efforts to get Huynh and Drueke back.