Russia won’t guarantee the lives of two Americans captured in Ukraine
The Russian government is not guaranteeing the lives of two American fighters who were captured by state-backed forces in Ukraine earlier this month in a sinister prediction of their fate.
Alex Drueke, 39, and Andy Huynh, 27, were captured in a battle for Kharkov on June 11. They are both said to be still alive and have recently appeared in videos released online.
However, Russian officials say they cannot guarantee the men will leave the area alive.
In an interview Monday night, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the couple was not protected by the Geneva Convention — which prohibits the taking of prisoners of war — because they were not part of the official Ukrainian military.
“It depends on the investigation,” Peskov told NBC News when asked whether the two American citizens would receive the same death sentences as British fighters Shaun Pinner, 48, and Aiden Aslin, 28.
“Those guys on the battlefield were firing at our soldiers. They put their lives in danger. There will be a court and there will be a court decision.
“They should be punished,” he said.
Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov told NBC News when asked whether the two American citizens would receive the same death penalty as British fighters Shaun Pinner, 48, and Aiden Aslin, 28.
Alexander Drueke, 39, left, and Andy Huynh, 27, appeared terrified by images released by Russian troops in which they identified themselves and denounced the war. These men went missing last week after their platoon was ambushed by Russian soldiers in Ukraine
It comes as a second US civilian was killed in fighting in the region.
New York grandfather Stephen Zabielski, 52, was killed on May 15 while fighting in the region.
He was a husband, father and grandfather whose death was reported by a local newspaper in his hometown in upstate New York.
Stephen Zabielski, 52, was murdered in Ukraine in May
The obituary states that he was killed in a fight in the village of Dorozhniank, Ukraine.
A friend on Facebook said he had experience in the US military, which appealed to young Ukrainian fighters.
“He was afraid he wouldn’t be hired given our age, but his experience made him the exception. Despite our age, we both knew we had a duty given our beliefs.
Steve stayed in Ukraine and gave his life for the freedom of Ukraine. He was killed by a landmine. He was the child of Polish-Americans, so he knew and understood sacrifice.’
His death comes after that of US Marine Corps veteran Willy Joseph Cancel, 22, who was killed in April.
The Pentagon continues to insist that it will do “everything” to get Drueke and Huynh home safely.
Yesterday, one of the men’s comrades in Ukraine spoke anonymously to CBS saying he felt guilty for taking them to the war zone.
“They more or less followed me here.
Zabielski, 52, with his wife. He previously served in the US Army
An undated photo of the two veterans, Drueke (left) and Huynh (right), was uploaded to the Telegram messaging app on Thursday, a day before the video was released.
“We all agreed there was no leader in the group, but I definitely feel a little guilty, no doubt.
“We should have looked more closely at more humanitarian options or training opportunities.
“If we did that, they wouldn’t be in the situation they’re in,” he said.
The anonymous group leader who was with them told CBS he and she knew execution was possible.
Willy Joseph Cancel (above), 22, of Orange County New York, was killed while fighting alongside Ukrainian troops after the private security company he worked for sent him to war
“They ended up here a bit by accident. They wanted to do good and this, I think, is the unfortunate result of that.
“We were warned that execution was possible. I’m really glad they didn’t know they had to go through with that,” he said.
Drueke served in the US military in Iraq, but Huynh has never been in active combat.
His Alabama fiancée said he traveled to the region to help after watching the war unfold from a distance.
In the Russian state media video, the men look beaten and tired.
‘My name is Alexander Drueke, I am against war,’ said Drueke. He then repeats in Russian: ‘Ya protiv voyny’, which means I am against war.
‘Ya protiv voyny,’ Huynh repeats after a quick bite.
Another video shows Drueke addressing his mother, Bunny, while promising to return home.
“Mom, I just wanted to let you know that I’m still alive, and I hope to be home as soon as possible,” Drueke said. ‘Love you.’
Firefighters work at the fire site this weekend after Russian shelling in Ukraine’s Mykolaiv after the latest bombing