© Reuters. Still image taken from Russian State TV footage. It said Alexander Drueke was a U.S. Citizen captured while fighting for Ukraine. The still image is from a June 17th 2022 video. RU-RTR/Handout via REUTERS Television

MOSCOW (Reuters).- The Kremlin claimed Tuesday that it didn’t know where two Americans were captured in the conflict in Ukraine but said they were mercenaries. They could face death sentences in Russian-backed separatist territories.

Alexander Drueke (39), and Andy Huynh (27) were killed in fighting close to Kharkiv this month. Russian state media then showed interviews with the two men and said they were held captive by Russian-backed forces.

Interfax reported, citing an unidentified source that these men had been in eastern Ukraine’s separatist self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic.

After being captured while fighting alongside the Ukrainian army, Britons Shaun Pinner, Aiden Aslin, and Brahim Saadoun from Morocco were executed by DPR courts this month.

Dmitry Peskov, spokesperson for the Kremlin, said that Moscow couldn’t rule out that two men from Alabama were captured and would be executed if they are tried in an independent territory.

Although Russia doesn’t carry out the death penalty in Russia, Donetsk People’s Republics and Luhansk People’s Republics have it in their statutes. Moscow is the only one that recognizes these republics’ independence.

“We’re talking about mercenaries, who threatened our lives as service personnel.” Not only for our personnel, but also those of the LPR and DPR.”

Peskov answered the question whether Americans might be brought to trial in DPR and condemned to death. Peskov said that they do not comment on these cases and are not allowed to influence court decisions.

Reuters couldn’t immediately confirm the Interfax report regarding the position of Americans. An Interfax spokesperson declined to comment immediately.

According to the Kremlin, the men do not have the protection of the Geneva Conventions. These conventions outline the treatment that prisoners of war must be given.

The relatives of those captured Americans claim they aren’t mercenaries, but had traveled to Ukraine in April as volunteers to repel Russian forces.

Lois Drueke was Alexander Drueke’s mother. He was a civil with military training.

Huynh was last seen talking to Drueke on June 8. They said they were on a mission, and that they would only be in touch for a couple of days. After they failed to return to their base, it was believed that they were captured.

According to family members, they discovered that the men were in Kharkiv which borders on the Donetsk area to the north.