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US fighters captured in Ukraine as Russia urges death penalty for prisoners of war

Foreign volunteers are fighting against Russian forces in Ukraine The alarm was sounded on Wednesday over two US fighters who said they had been captured amid heavy fighting.

Robert Drake, 39, and Andy Hoen, 27, were serving with the Ukrainian army when they were taken into Kharkiv last week, telegraph mentioned.

“We were on a mission and the whole thing was totally crazy, with bad information. We were told the town was clear when it turned out the Russians were already attacking it,” a man fighting alongside the two told the newspaper. He said that the two had disappeared in a confrontation with Russian forces, and that a subsequent search in the area “found no sign of their presence, nothing.”

The two are believed to be the first American volunteers prisoner By Russian forces since the February 24 invasion.

Earlier Wednesday, a Twitter account operated by a task force of former US and French soldiers announced that two Americans had been captured.

There was no immediate confirmation from the Ukrainian authorities, although the statement noted that the fate of the two men was “confirmed by Ukrainian intelligence”.

“We have not heard anything since then about their safety,” the statement said, explaining that the Americans were taken away when “a week ago our team ended up in isolation amid a Russian attack.”

Ukraine’s Defense Ministry and the ministry’s Main Intelligence Directorate did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

But the news came as Russian officials doubled down on calls for the death penalty against foreign volunteers in Ukraine.

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During the Saint Petersburg International Economic Forum on Wednesday, Maria Zakharova, a spokeswoman for the Russian Foreign Ministry, praised the recent execution of two British citizens and a Moroccan national by Russian agents in occupied Donetsk.

British citizens Sean Benner and Aiden Aslin, along with Moroccan national Ibrahim Saadoun, were officially part of the Ukrainian armed forces when they were captured amid heavy fighting in Mariupol. Russia-backed authorities quickly put the group on trial in less than three days and handed down a death sentence last Thursday.

“It seems that such a cruel punishment will become a clear example for all those so-called soldiers of fortune who are fighting on the side of the Ukrainian neo-Nazis or intend to join them, because this is a crime against the civilian population of Donbass,” she He saidechoing the Kremlin’s twisted narrative that neo-Nazis control Ukraine even though the president himself is Jewish.

Also, on Wednesday, the Speaker of the Russian State Duma presented a threat about the fate of those detained by Russian agents in Ukraine.

Vyacheslav Volodin urged the Russian-backed agents in the occupied Donetsk region to use the death penalty against prisoners of war.

“The death penalty is a measure of punishment these fascists deserve,” he wrote. cableaccusing those fighting for Ukraine of “crimes against humanity”.

While Russia has a moratorium on the death penalty, he said: “There is a rule in [Donetsk People’s Republic] which it would be correct to preserve. It is especially relevant in wartime.”

The Russian Defense Ministry has repeatedly claimed that foreign volunteers fighting for Ukraine are “mercenaries” who are not protected by international humanitarian laws, despite the men officially joining the Ukrainian army.

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Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters earlier this week that British authorities hoping to appeal the death sentence against Beiner and Aslin should turn not to Moscow for help, but to “the state authorities whose court ruled,” that is, the Russian agents in Unrecognized area. Donetsk People’s Republic.

While the fate of the foreign captives hangs in the balance, the friends and loved ones of the Ukrainian forces who were captured defending Mariupol’s Azovstal Steel Plant have begged the world not to forget them either. Hundreds of Ukrainian defenders are still being held captive in the lands occupied by Russian agents, their circumstances are unknown.

a video call Released on Wednesday by the Association of Families of Defenders of Azovstal, the Association of Families of Defenders of Azovstal has invited international journalists and the International Red Cross to visit the penal colony in the occupied town of Olinivka where many of the men are being held. Ukrainian authorities said more than 2,500 Ukrainian gunners were captured in Russia at Azovstal, some across the border and others dumped into penal colonies run by Russian agents.

“We must not forget the heroes of Azovstal,” the group said, adding that “the world must know the truth.”

Several family members of detainees in Russia said they had neither received nor heard from the men for weeks.

According to the Geneva Convention, they have the right to call their relatives twice a week to make sure they are okay. “We didn’t get a call once,” said Tatiana Kharko, the sister of one of the Ukrainian defenders.

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The soldiers did their duty, they did everything to protect our country. …and now it is the state’s duty to do everything to protect them there. We understand what kind of methods Russia can use. We know about all of these methods. And we don’t want [those methods used]”Because our soldiers do not deserve it,” said Yekaterina Prokopenko, the wife of one of the Azov commanders in Russian captivity.