Lavrov ‘Not Interested’ in West’s Views on Foreigners Captured in Ukraine, Calls Them ‘Mercenaries’

( – Amid reports that two U.S. citizens fighting with Ukrainian forces against the Russians may have been captured, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Thursday batted away Western concerns about two Britons recently sentenced to death by Russian proxies in eastern Ukraine, saying that “mercenaries” are not combatants.

“In the eyes of the West, Russia is responsible for the fate of these people,” the BBC’s Russia editor Steve Rosenberg told Lavrov during an interview in St. Petersburg, referring to the two British citizens.

“I am not interested in the ‘eyes of the West’ at all,” Lavrov interjected. “I am only interested in international law. According to international law, mercenaries are not recognized as combatants.”

The views of the West, he said, were “irrelevant.”

Rosenberg pointed out that Aiden Aslin and Shaun Pinner, who were sentenced to death by a court in the so-called Donetsk “people’s republic” (DPR) on June 9, were not mercenaries, but had been fighting in the Ukrainian Armed Forces. (A Moroccan, Brahim Saadoun, was also sentenced to death.)


Lavrov said that should be determined by a court. Asked if he considered courts in the DPR to be independent, he replied that he was “convinced” of it.

(Lavrov then asked Rosenberg if he thought courts in the U.K. were independent, and went on to raise Russian complaints about British courts’ handling of matters relating to the assassination of former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko in 2006 and the attempted assassination of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal in 2018.)

According to Russia’s RIA Novosti, death sentences in DPR are carried out by firing squad.

State Department spokesman Ned Price confirmed Thursday that the department was monitoring reports that two Americans who had been fighting with Ukrainian forces were missing and feared to have been captured.

“We are in contact with Ukrainian authorities, as well as with the International Committee of the Red Cross and the families of the two reported missing U.S. citizens,” he said during a daily briefing.

Price said the U.S. had not raised the matter with the Russians, but if it had credible reason to believe that the two were in Russian hands, “we would pursue that as appropriate.”

“If we feel that such outreach through our embassy in Moscow or otherwise would be productive in terms of finding out more information on the whereabouts of these individuals, we won’t hesitate to do that.”

Price said that members of the Ukrainian armed forces, including volunteers who could be nationals of a third country, should be treated as prisoners of war under the Geneva Conventions, which prohibit POWs from being prosecuted for participating in hostilities.

And even if Russia does not consider individuals captured in connection with the conflict to be POWs, they should still be afforded humane treatment and the right to a fair trial.

Price said the State Department was also aware of reports of a third American who “had traveled to Ukraine to take up arms” and had gone missing in recent weeks, although full details were not known.

He said the department could not provide details of the other two Americans, due to privacy and other considerations.

CNN named the two as Alexander John-Robert Drueke, 39, from Tuscaloosa, Ala. and Andy Tai Ngoc Huynh, 27, from Hartselle, Ala., and said they had reportedly gone missing during a battle near Kharkiv – north of the Donetsk region – on June 9.


Some media, including videos, may only be available to view at the original.  

Similar Posts