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Captured Britons forced to beg Boris Johnson to free them on Russian TV

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Shaun Pinner, 48, and Aiden Aslin, 28, were defending the southern city of Mariupol with Ukrainian marines when they were captured.

Shaun Pinner, 48, and Aiden Aslin, 28, were defending the southern city of Mariupol with Ukrainian marines when they were captured.

They were yesterday forced to beg Boris Johnson to exchange them for pro-Moscow politician Viktor Medvedchuk – who has previously been described as Putin’s ally in Kyiv.

But Tobias Ellwood, chair of the House of Commons Defence Select Committee, said the Russian forces have been “humiliated on the battlefield”. And this has left Putin “desperately” needing a “PR success”.

Mr Ellwood said a prisoner swap is possible, as the family of former Royal Anglian soldier Mr Pinner urged the Russian tyrant to uphold his rights under the Geneva Convention.

In footage reportedly broadcast on the Rossiya 24 state channel yesterday, Mr Pinner, formerly addresses the Prime Minister and appears to ask for himself and fellow British prisoner of war Mr Aslin to be swapped for or Medvedchuk.

He said he was now in the “Donetsk People’s Republic”, a breakaway state.

Speaking under duress and after prompted by an unidentified man, he said: “Hi Mr Boris Johnson.”

“I understand that Mr Medvedchuk has been detained and we look to exchange myself and Aiden Aslin for Mr Medvedchuk.”

“Obviously I’d really appreciate your help in this matter and pushing this agenda.”

Mr Pinner’s sister Cassandra said a prisoner swap is an option actively being considered by British officials.

She said last night: “We have been made aware that Shaun is in a video asking for a prisoner exchange.”

“A prisoner exchange is a move that is being considered, not necessarily with Viktor Medvedchuk, but it’s something being discussed.”

He also said has been “treated well” and “fed, watered”. In a separate clip, Mr Aslin from Newark, Nott is seen saying: “If  Boris Johnson really does care like he says he does about British citizens then he would help pressure Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to do the right thing and return Viktor to his family and return us to our families.”

Medvedchuk also asked to be exchanged in a video released by Ukraine’s intelligence service.

Mr Ellwood said yesterday: “You normally expect participants of state-on-state warfare to address the Geneva Convention. Russia is failing to do that.

“We are past day 50 of the invasion. The might of the Russian forces have little to show for what they have done so far. Putin’s forces have been humiliated on the battlefield and now at sea with the loss of the Black Sea flagship, the Moskva.

“Putin desperately needs a PR success. So parading British citizens on Russian TV is a simple way to move the story on.”

“It is a reminder why we discourage anybody, no matter how noble they think the cause is, to go and fight or join the ranks of the Ukrainians.”

“You are then paraded and used as a pawn in this way.”

“If you have a British passport, this is what we are now seeing Putin is willing to do.”

The two British fighters would have been “absolutely” speaking under duress, Mr Ellwood said. He added: “They will be used in this way to push us off guard, to think differently.

“It is important the backchannels can now operate to secure this release.”

“There’s one thing to be paraded on television, there’s another to be used as a pawn to secure the release of a Russian Ukrainian.”

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