Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has vowed to fight for the safe return of two Americans captured by Russian forces in Ukraine, hailing them as “heroes”.
Military veterans Alexander Drueke, 39, and Andy Huynh, 27, were captured during a battle in a village outside Kharkiv in the northeast last week.
Days later, the prisoners spoke to Russian state agency RT from a detention center in Ukraine’s Kremlin-controlled Donbass region, which has been the scene of some of the war’s fiercest fighting.
“What can I say? They are heroes, and for me they are the same as Ukrainians because they give the most important thing they had: their lives,” Zelensky said in an interview at the Aspen Ideas Festival, NBC News reported.
Zelensky did not suggest that Drueke and Huynh were killed, although Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov on Monday did not rule out that the foreign fighters could face the death penalty.
“I am sure we will fight for them and bring them back, and of course they will return to their families,” said Zelenskyy.
“It is a great honor for me that there are some soldiers in the world who are not afraid and have come to support us and our sovereignty and independence.”
In his remarks about the Americans, Peskov pointed out that international legal protection under the Geneva Convention does not apply to them because they are “fortune soldiers” and not members of the Ukrainian armed forces.
Drueke, a US Army veteran, served in Iraq. His mother told the Telegraph he suffered from PTSD and was struggling to keep a job before going to Ukraine.
Huynh, a former Marine, traveled to Ukraine to fight in April, according to WAAY, an affiliate of Alabama ABC.
National Security Council coordinator John Kirby called the Kremlin official’s death penalty threats “appalling” and “alarming.”
“We will continue to try to learn as much as we can about it,” he said.
https://nypost.com/2022/06/24/zelensky-vows-to-fight-for-safe-return-of-captured-americans/ Zelensky vows to fight for the safe return of the captured Americans