Kremlin says two detained Americans endanger Russian servicemen

© Reuters. PHOTO FILE: October 13, 2021; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Phoenix Mercury Center Brittney Griner (42 years old) shoots at the Chicago Sky during the first half of game two of the 2021 WNBA final at Footprint Center. Required credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports / Fi

(Reuters) – Two Americans detained in Ukraine while fighting on the Ukrainian side of the war are mercenaries who endangered the lives of Russian servicemen and must be held accountable for their actions, the Kremlin said. said on Monday.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, in an interview with US television network MSNBC, also said that American basketball star Brittney Griner, held in Russia for more than two months, committed drug crimes, not hostages.

Peskov’s comments were the first official admission that the two men, identified in US reports as Andy Huynh, 27, of Hartselle, Alabama, and Alexander Drueke, 39, of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, is in custody and under investigation.

“They are rich soldiers. They have engaged in illegal activities on the territory of Ukraine. They have engaged in the shooting and shelling of our military personnel. They are endangering our service. for their lives,” Peskov said.

“And they must be held accountable for the crimes they have committed. Those crimes must be investigated … The only thing that is clear is that they committed the crime. They are not part of the Ukrainian military. They are not subject to the blame. Geneva Convention.”

Family members said last week two men had traveled to Ukraine as volunteer fighters and had gone missing.

Russian media last week broadcast images of them being captured while fighting for Ukraine.

Peskov would not disclose where the men were detained.

Two Britons and a Moroccan were convicted by a rebel court in Donetsk on the grounds that they were mercenaries and were not subject to the Geneva Convention on the management of prisoners of war.

Kyiv condemned the court’s ruling as having no authority and said the fighters were members of the Ukrainian armed forces, and therefore were subject to the protections of the Geneva Conventions.

Moscow called its actions a “special military operation” aimed at disarming Ukraine and protecting Ukraine from the fascists. Ukraine and its allies in the West argue that the Nazi leader’s accusations are baseless and that the war is an unprovoked act of aggression.


Peskov said Griner, who went to support basketball in Russia, is being prosecuted under a law banning drug imports.

“Russia is not the only country in the world where the law is quite strict in that sense … it is prosecuted before the law. There is nothing we can do about that,” Peskov told MSNBC.

He “completely disagrees” with any notion that Griner, who arrived in Russia in February, is being held hostage.

“We can’t call her a hostage. Why should we call her a hostage?” he say. “She broke Russian law and now she’s being prosecuted. It’s not about being a hostage.”

Russian customs officials said vape cartridges containing hash oil were found in Griner’s luggage.

The US State Department determined in May that Griner had been improperly detained and appointed diplomats to work to free her. Her wife, Cherelle Griner, has said that she is a political pawn.

(Written in Melbourne by Lidia Kelly and Ron Popeski in Winnipeg; edited by Philippa Fletcher)

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