The Kremlin says it does not know the location of the captured American “mercenaries” from Reuters

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© Reuters. Still image taken from footage on Russian state television, which she said shows Alexander Drucke, an American citizen captured by Russian forces while fighting for Ukraine, in an unknown location, in a still image from a video published on June 17, 2022. RU -RTR / Distribution via TV REUTERS

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MOSCOW (Reuters) – The Kremlin said Tuesday it did not know the whereabouts of two Americans captured during fighting in eastern Ukraine, but that they were mercenaries and could be sentenced to death in Russian-backed breakaway territories.

Americans Alexander Drucke, 39, and Andy Huyn, 27, disappeared this month while fighting near Kharkiv. Russian state media later showed video interviews with the two, saying they had been captured by Russian-backed forces.

Citing an unidentified source, Interfax reported that the men were in the separatist self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) in eastern Ukraine.

Britain’s Sean Piner and Aiden Aslin and Moroccan citizen Brahim Saadoun were sentenced to death by a DNR court this month after being captured in a fight with the Ukrainian army.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters that Moscow could not rule out that the two captured men, both from Alabama, would also be sentenced to death if tried in separatist territory.

Although Russia does not carry out the death penalty, the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics, whose independence is recognized only by Moscow, have it in their statutes.

“We are talking about mercenaries who threatened the lives of our service staff. And not only ours, but also the service personnel of the DPR and LPR. “

Asked whether the Americans could be tried in the DNR and sentenced to death, Peskov said: “We cannot rule anything out, because these are court decisions. We never comment on them and we have no right to interfere in court decisions.”

Reuters could not immediately verify the Interfax report on the location of the Americans. A DNR spokesman immediately declined to comment.

The Kremlin says that as “mercenaries”, men are not protected by the Geneva Conventions, which outline how prisoners of war should be treated.

Relatives of the captured Americans say they are not mercenaries and traveled to Ukraine as volunteers in April to help repel Russian forces.

Alexander Drucke’s mother, Lois, said: “Alex did not go as a soldier. He went as a civilian with military training.”

Huynh and Drueke last spoke with relatives on June 8 to say they were going on a mission and would be out of touch for a day or two. They feared they would be captured after they did not return to base.

Family members said they later learned that the men were in the Kharkiv region, which borders the Donetsk region to the north.

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