Two American fighters who went missing while defending Ukraine are apparently alive and in Russian custody, Russian state media reported.
Former US servicemen Alexander Drueke, 39, and Andy Huynh, 27, spoke with the Russian state agency RT Friday from a detention center in a Moscow-controlled section of the Donbas region, the outlet said.
The report hints that Drueke and Huynh may face the death penalty for fighting alongside Ukrainian troops — the same sentence handed down by separatists earlier this month to two Brits and a Moroccan captured by Russian forces.
On Monday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov appeared to pave the way for such a ruling, telling MSNBC that Drueke and Huynh were “soldiers of fortune,” not covered by the protections of intern ational law.
Asked if they were prisoners of war — a classification that would entitle them to the protections of the Geneva Convention — Peskov declined to discuss “the juridical side of their capture.”
“They are not members of the Ukrainian army,” Peskov said. “The Geneva Convention cannot be applied to soldiers of Fortune.”
Drueke and Huynh were taken prisoner during a fierce fight with Russian armor during the ongoing Ukrainian counterattacks in the nation’s northeast, according to a report by the British newspaper the Telegraph.
They were captured after their 10-man squad ran into a much larger Russian force in a village outside Kharkiv, the newspaper said, citing an unnamed source who fought with the pair in a regular Ukrainian military unit.
Drueke, a veteran of the US Army, served in Iraq. His mother told the Telegraph that he had suffered from PTSD and was struggling to hold down a job before going to Ukraine.
Huynh, a former Marine, left to fight in Ukraine in April, according to Alabama ABC affiliate WAAY.