The US found remarks "appalling" by a Russian official who said Tuesday that two American "mercenaries" in the hands of the Russians could be executed.
"It's appalling that a public official in Russia would even suggest the death penalty for two American citizens that were in Ukraine," White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said at a news conference.
His remarks were in response to Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov who said the two US "mercenaries" captured in the combat zone in Ukraine by rebel forces of the Donetsk region could face the death penalty.
"We are talking about mercenaries who threatened the lives and encroached on the lives of our servicemen. And not only ours, but also the servicemen of the Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) and the Luhansk People's Republic (LPR). This is what they are accused of -- being mercenaries," Peskov said at a news conference in Moscow.
The fate of the captives will be designated by a court of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic, he said.
Kirby said US authorities are trying to learn more about the two individuals.
Last week British media claimed that Alexander Drueke and Andy Huynh were captured near the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv.
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