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US Department of State says no response from Russia yet on fate of US mercenaries

"The only response we’ve seen has been the response that Russian officials have made in public interviews", Ned Price noted

WASHINGTON, June 22. /TASS/. The US has called upon Russia to comply with its international obligations regarding US citizens "captured fighting in Ukraine" both publicly and via diplomatic channels, but received no response from Moscow so far, US Department of State Spokesperson Ned Price told reporters.

"We have been in touch with Russian authorities regarding U.S. citizens who may have been captured while fighting in Ukraine. As I mentioned, late last week we’ve also been in touch with our Ukrainian partners, with the ICRC [International Committee of the Red Cross], with other countries, as well as with the families of Americans who have been reported missing in Ukraine," the spokesman said. "We have both publicly as well as privately called on the Russian Government and its proxies to live up to their international obligations in their treatment of all individuals, including those captured fighting in Ukraine."

Price said Washington had no information about the whereabouts of the US citizens, as well as other details about their condition.

"The only response we’ve seen has been the response that Russian officials have made in public interviews," he added.

Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists on Tuesday Two Americans recently captured in Donbass were being accused of mercenarism and were therefore not subject to the Geneva Convention. The Russian president’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.

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.