London-The Kremlin announced this week that the Geneva Convention, created to protect soldiers detained during the war, does not apply to two American volunteers captured by Russian troops.

Spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists Monday that the two detainees were “involved in illegal activities on Ukrainian territory.”

“They have to take responsibility for those crimes they commit,” he said. “These crimes need to be investigated …. All that is clear is that they have committed the crimes. They are not in the Ukrainian army. They are not subject to the Geneva Convention.”

Yahoo News spoke with Matthew Schmidt, Program Coordinator of International Affairs and Associate Professor of National Security at the University of New Haven, Connecticut. He explained the treatment of detainees in Russia and whether it was legal for Americans to fight in Ukraine.

Yahoo News: Is it legal for US citizens to fight for Ukraine?

Matthew Schmidt: The simple answer is yes. There are 19th century laws that question this. However, John F. Kennedy’s Attorney General and brother Robert Kennedy has declared that it is legal for American citizens of Cuban descent to return to Cuba during the Cuban missile crisis. .. This is the standard we are using today.

Alex Drueke and Andy TaiNgoc Huynh.

Alex Drueke, left, Andy TaiNgoc Huynh. (Distribution via Lois Drueke / Reuters, distribution via WAAYTV)

How about European countries?

Most European countries also have 19th-century laws focusing on colonial wars, which are related to preventing civilians from fighting enemy forces in colonial conflicts. Today it really is a matter of enforcement. And in essence, all European countries have agreed to allow their citizens to voluntarily participate in the war in Ukraine and not prosecute them under their old law.

What does international law say?

International human rights law focuses on human status and then combatant status. Therefore, there are treatment criteria that apply regardless of whether you are a combatant or considered a legitimate combatant. So, for example, torture is illegal. This was one of the problems that arose during the US war on terrorism, and the United States did not declare many of the captured fighters as official military personnel, but subsequently engaged in what was called extended cross-examination. Law. Therefore, these criteria will continue to apply. And the United States is in a difficult position to oppose this because of what the United States did during the war on terrorism against other informal combatants. And that is the problem the United States faces in this case.

What do we know about how Russia treats prisoners of war and detainees?

They do not comply with international human rights standards. Therefore, they treat detainees in a way that international law considers torture — lack of sleep and other means of interrogation that are considered illegal under international law.

How can you prove that the detainee is a mercenary or a volunteer?

Under international law, there are six criteria that must be met. In this case, it is very strict to be considered a mercenary. The second criterion is that your main motivation for fighting is for private gain, that is, money or payment. And since their main motive does not seem to be for wages, it would be very difficult under Western standards to claim that captured Americans are mercenaries. Wages are well below the standard of living in the United States. And they aren’t really making material profits.

Meanwhile, Ukraine will begin its first trial against Russian soldiers accused of rape on Thursday. Michael Romanov has no custody of Ukraine and is therefore subject to trial in absentia. The Romanovs have been accused of murdering a civilian in Kieu on March 9, and then repeatedly raping his wife. According to the court file.

Russian Sergeant Vadim Sishimarin.

Sgt. Vadim Shishimarin (Efrem Lukatsky / AP), the first Russian soldier to face a war crime trial in Ukraine at a court hearing in Kieu on May 13.

that is, 21 year old Russian soldier At the first war crimes trial in Ukraine. Sgt. Vadim Sisimarin was sentenced to life imprisonment after being found guilty of shooting and killing a 62-year-old unarmed civilian four days after the invasion.

Ukraine has been investigating thousands of war crimes allegedly committed by Russian soldiers since the brutal invasion of the country began on February 24. Ukrainian Prosecutor’s President, Iryna Venediktova, Told reuters Many of the accused are in Russia. However, some have been captured as prisoners.

Attorney General Merrick Garland Visited without notice Judiciary officials said they headed to Ukraine on Tuesday to meet with Benedictova. The two reportedly discussed ways to help Ukraine “identify, arrest and prosecute individuals involved in war crimes and other atrocities in Ukraine.”

Was the Kremlin able to retaliate against the 21-year-old Russian ruling last month regarding American detainees?

I think it is easy for us to fall into this idea that the logic of Russia’s movement here is retaliation. But I think it’s better to think of it as a strategic advantage.Therefore, the true rationale for [Russian President Vladimir] Putin’s imposition of this approach on American prisoners and other Western fighters is to support his domestic propaganda. It supports the idea that war is really Russia being attacked or threatened by the West.And detaining Western prisoners, especially American prisoners, is what is really happening in Ukraine by the United States and NATO. [are] Use Ukraine on behalf of their own war against Russia.

On Wednesday, two British men were sentenced to death in a Russian deputy court for fighting for Ukraine. Sean Pinner and Aiden Aslin were charged with “terrorism” in a court of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, a segregated region in eastern Ukraine. Aslin’s family told the BBC that his Russian prisoners of war had assured him that his execution would take place.

Can the United Nations intervene to help prisoners sentenced to death?

They can apply for access, and the International Red Cross can apply for access. Of course, the US Embassy can apply for access. But so far they don’t even know where the American prisoners are. And in the end, Russia preemptively claims that prisoners are guilty of war crimes or may be prosecuted for war crimes. Therefore, according to their standards, they do not have to comply with international law.

It’s worth remembering two points. One is that the prisoners are clearly detained by DNR. [Donetsk People’s Republic], This is not Russia. Also, DNR has not officially signed any of these applicable laws, so there is no need to comply with them and there is a death penalty. In this case, and several times in Russian state media, government celebrities have come up with the idea of ​​using the death penalty against them, as others have accused Americans of committing war. Crime against Russian troops and Russian citizens who even say they have no choice.


How are Ukrainian troops taking out so many Russian tanks? Use this embedding to learn about some of the weapon systems the United States is sending to the Ukrainian army.

US Weapons to Ukraine Explore some of the weapons used in Ukraine in your browser or scan this QR code on your mobile phone to start your augmented reality experience.

US Weapons to Ukraine Explore some of the weapons used in Ukraine in your browser or scan this QR code on your mobile phone to start your augmented reality experience.

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