If there is anything we know about Vladimir Putin, it’s that he is more than willing to take drastic action in order to make a point – even if those drastic actions would have dramatic consequences for Russia’s place in the world order.
This became all the more apparent this week as Russia openly defied the the standard of classifying American soldiers captured in Ukraine as POW’s in order to threaten them with the death penalty.
A Kremlin spokesman on Monday would not rule out the death penalty for two Americans captured by Russian forces while fighting for Ukraine. “It depends on the investigation,” Dmitry Peskov, spokesman for President Vladimir Putin, told NBC News in an interview. Alexander Drueke and Andy Huynh were participating in illegal activities, Peskov said, by shooting at Russian troops in Ukraine. The Americans “were endangering their lives,” he said. The two US military veterans were reported missing last week.
A frightening precedent had already been set:
A Russian-controlled court in eastern Ukraine gave the death penalty to a Moroccan and two British citizens who had fought Russian forces earlier this month.
Officials have suggested that as many as 20,000 individuals from over 50 countries have volunteered to fight in Ukraine, and there are no indications that Russia plans to regard any of them protected under the Geneva Convention.