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US mercenaries captured in Donbass not covered by Geneva Convention, Kremlin says

Last week, it was reported that two former US servicemen were captured near Kharkov

MOSCOW, June 21. /TASS/. Two Americans recently captured in Donbass are being accused of mercenarism and therefore are not subject to the Geneva Convention, Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists on Tuesday.

"We are talking about mercenaries who threatened the lives of our servicemen. And not only ours but also the servicemen of the Donetsk People’s Republic and the Lugansk People’s Republic. Mercenarism is precisely what they are being accused of," the Kremlin official clarified. He emphasized that "the scope of the Geneva Convention does not and cannot involve them."

Putin’s press secretary noted that the actions of the captured Americans "should be investigated and they should be brought to justice." That said, he didn’t count out the possibility that the court would sentence them to capital punishment. "We cannot exclude anything because this is a court decision. We never comment on them and moreover, we don’t have the right to interfere in court decisions," he explained, commenting on a question as to whether the captured Americans may receive the death penalty in the DPR.

The spokesman did not answer a question on their whereabouts. "No, I cannot specify. I don’t have information about their location," he said.

Last week, the UK’s Daily Telegraph reported that two former US servicemen, 39-year-old Alexander Drueke and 27-year-old Andy Huynh, were captured near Kharkov. On June 16, the US Department of State said the United States was ready for contacts with Russia over the American citizens detained near Kharkov who came to Ukraine to participate in combat. The agency reiterated its strong recommendations to US citizens not to visit Ukraine.

On February 24, Russian President Vladimir Putin said in a televised address that in response to a request by the heads of the Donbass republics he had made a decision to carry out a special military operation in order to protect people "who have been suffering from abuse and genocide by the Kiev regime for eight years." Following this, the US and its allies announced the introduction of sweeping sanctions against Russia and stepped up arms deliveries to Kiev.