White House says it’s ‘appalling’ Russia won’t rule out execution of detained Americans who volunteered to fight for Ukraine

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“We are still trying to find out more about these two individuals,” said John Kirby, strategic communications coordinator at the National Security Council.

“It’s appalling that an official in Russia is even suggesting the death penalty for two American citizens who were in Ukraine. And we’re going to keep trying to learn what we can about that,” he said. declared.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Monday that the Geneva Convention – the charter that defines the treatment of soldiers and civilians in times of war, including the ban on executing prisoners of war – does not s does not apply to the two detained US citizens.

Peskov said the death penalty could not be ruled out, but it was a decision of a court, not the Kremlin.

Kirby said he wouldn’t try to get inside the head of Peskov or Vladimir Putin, but added that the prospect of the death penalty was real or hypothetical, it was troubling no matter what.

“Either way, it’s equally alarming, that they actually mean what they’re saying here and that could be a result, that they could impose the death penalty on two Americans in Ukraine,” he said. -he declares. “Or that they just think it’s a responsible thing for a great power to talk about doing this as a way of signaling to the President of the United States and the American people. Either is equally alarming .”

Two US volunteers fighting for Ukraine have been taken into custody by Russian-backed separatists in Donetsk after being captured last week, according to Russian state media.

US citizens Alexander John-Robert Drueke, 39, of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and Andy Tai Ngoc Huynh, 27, of Hartselle, Alabama, were interviewed by Russian broadcaster RT at a detention center in the so-called Republic People’s Republic of Donetsk (DPR) on Friday, according to a report published on RT.

The two Americans went missing on June 9 during a battle north of Kharkiv and it was feared they had been captured by Russian forces, according to their families and a fellow fighter.

On Friday, short video clips surfaced on pro-Russian channels and social media appearing to show the men being held at an unknown location. At the time, we did not know who held them.

A State Department spokesperson told CNN on Friday that they “had seen the photos and videos of these two American citizens who were allegedly captured by Russian military forces in Ukraine” and were “closely monitoring the situation”.

“We are in contact with the Ukrainian authorities, the International Committee of the Red Cross and with the families themselves,” they continued. “For privacy reasons, we have no further comment on these cases.”

Separately, an edited video of more than 50 minutes was posted on Saturday of Drueke and Huynh being interviewed by HelmCast, a pro-Russian Serbian nationalist YouTube channel.

In the interview, a man behind the camera can be heard revealing the location of their interview when he says “here in Donetsk” when questioning Drueke.

Drueke is also asked in the interview if he has any objections to the way he has been treated since his capture and he reveals that he has been beaten.

CNN chose not to air the videos of American detainees because they show men speaking under duress.

The whereabouts of Drueke and Huynh is a potentially concerning development. Russia has a moratorium on the death penalty, while Donetsk uses firing squads to execute convicted prisoners, according to Russian state media RIA Novosti.

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