Home International News Russia says US volunteer fighters captured in Ukraine 'will be held accountable'

Russia says US volunteer fighters captured in Ukraine ‘will be held accountable’

Two Americans detained in Ukraine while fighting on the Ukrainian side of the war were mercenaries endangering the lives of Russian servicemen and facing responsibility for their actions, the Kremlin said on Monday (June 20).

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, interviewed by the American television network NBC News, also said that American basketball star Brittney Griner, who was held in Russia for more than two months, was guilty of drug offenses and not a hostage situation.

Peskov’s comments were the first formal admission that the two men, identified in US reports as Andy Huynh, 27, of Hartselle, Alabama, and Alexander Drueke, 39, of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, were detained and investigated.

“They are fortunate soldiers. They were involved in illegal activities on the territory of Ukraine. They were involved in shelling and shelling our military personnel. They put their lives at risk,” Peskov said.

“And they must be held accountable for the crimes they committed. Those crimes must be investigated… All that is clear is that they committed crimes. They are not in the Ukrainian military. They are not subject to the Geneva Convention.”

Relatives said last week that the two men went to Ukraine as volunteer fighters and were missing.

Russian media last week broadcast footage of them taken during their fights for Ukraine.

Peskov would not reveal where the men were being held.

Two Britons and a Moroccan have already been convicted by a court under the jurisdiction of separatists in Donetsk on the grounds that they were mercenaries and were not subject to the Geneva Convention on Prisoners of War.

Kiev condemned the court’s ruling as lacking jurisdiction, saying the fighters were members of the Ukrainian armed forces and thus subject to the protection of the Geneva Convention.

Moscow calls its actions a “special military operation” to disarm and protect Ukraine from fascists. Ukraine and its allies in the West say the fascist accusation is unfounded and that the war is an unprovoked act of aggression.

GRINER’S PROSECUTION

Peskov said Griner, who had come to promote basketball in Russia, was being prosecuted under laws banning drug imports.

“Russia isn’t the only country in the world that has pretty strict laws in that sense… it’s being prosecuted by law. There’s nothing we can do about that,” Peskov told NBC.

He “completely disagreed” with the idea that Griner, who arrived in Russia in February, was being held hostage.

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

Russian customs officials say vape cartridges containing hash oil were found in Griner’s luggage.

The US State Department determined in May that Griner had been wrongly detained and ordered diplomats to work for her release. Her wife, Cherelle Griner, has said she is a political pawn.

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