New York Post

2 US Ukr. fighters held by Russians

- Simko-Bednarski

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 internatio­nal 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 unidentifi­ed source who fought with the pair in a regular Ukrainian military unit.

Drueke, a veteran of the US Army, served in Iraq. Huynh, a former Marine, left to fight in Ukraine in April, according to Alabama ABC affiliate WAAY.Evan

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