Kremlin: Death penalty for captured US citizens cannot be ruled out

The Kremlin has said that the two Americans detained in Ukraine were mercenaries not covered by the Geneva Conventions.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov speaks during the annual end-of-year news conference of Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow, Russia December 19, 2019. Picture taken December 19, 2019 (photo credit: SPUTNIK/ALEXEI NIKOLSKY/KREMLIN VIA REUTERS)
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov speaks during the annual end-of-year news conference of Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow, Russia December 19, 2019. Picture taken December 19, 2019
(photo credit: SPUTNIK/ALEXEI NIKOLSKY/KREMLIN VIA REUTERS)

The Kremlin said on Tuesday that the US citizens captured in Ukraine were subject to court decisions and did not rule out that they could face the death penalty.

"We can't rule anything out, because these are court decisions. We don't comment on them and have no right to interfere," Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

He said the Kremlin did not know where the men were now after their families said they had not returned from a mission around the Kharkiv region.

On Monday, the Kremlin said that the two Americans detained in Ukraine were mercenaries not covered by the Geneva Conventions and should face consequences for their actions.

"We can't rule anything out, because these are court decisions. We don't comment on them and have no right to interfere."

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, interviewed by the US television network NBC news, also said US basketball star Brittney Griner, held in Russia for more than two months, was guilty of drug offenses and not a hostage.

 Russian President Vladimir Putin listens to Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko during a meeting at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia March 11, 2022. (credit: SPUTNIK/MIKHAIL KLIMENTYEV/KREMLIN VIA REUTERS) Russian President Vladimir Putin listens to Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko during a meeting at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia March 11, 2022. (credit: SPUTNIK/MIKHAIL KLIMENTYEV/KREMLIN VIA REUTERS)

Peskov's comments

Peskov's comments were the first formal acknowledgment that the two men, identified in US reports as Andy Huynh, 27, of Hartselle, Alabama, and Alexander Drueke, 39, of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, were being held and under investigation.

"They are soldiers of fortune. They were involved in illegal activities on the territory of Ukraine. They were involved in firing at and shelling of our military personnel. They were endangering their lives," Peskov said.