Europe

‘Very missed’ Family of captured British soldier in Ukraine release emotional statement

Ukraine: Aiden Aslin 'is not a mercenary’ says mother

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Mr Aslin is one of three men accused of being mercenaries for Ukrainian forces. His family has said they are working with the Foreign Office and Ukrainian government to bring him home.

In a statement released via the Foreign Office, the family said: “This is a very sensitive and emotional time for our family, and we would like to say thank you to all that have supported us.

“We are currently working with the Ukrainian government and the Foreign Office to try and bring Aiden home.

“Aiden is a much-loved man and very much missed, and we hope that he will be released very soon.”

The family’s intervention comes after the president of Ukraine’s separatist Donetsk People’s Republic said the region’s supreme court is opening the trial of the three Britons.

If convicted on the charges, including of trying to seize power, the men could face the death penalty.

Separatist president Denis Pushilin claimed on Monday that “the crimes they committed were monstrous”, according to separatist news agency DAN.

Mr Aslin and one of the other men, Shaun Pinner, were members of regular Ukrainian military units in Mariupol.

The affiliation of the third man, Andrew Hill, who was captured in the Mykolaiv area, is unclear.

Justice Secretary Dominic Raab has said the Foreign Office will make all the representations on Mr Aslin’s behalf.

He told LBC: “In relation to that case, I don’t know all the details, but of course we would expect the laws of armed conflict to be respected, and we will make sure that we will make all the representations.

“I know the Foreign Office will be looking at making sure all those representations are made.”

Mr Aslin and Mr Pinner were captured in April and paraded on Russian TV soon after.

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They pleaded to be exchanged for a Ukrainian ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin who was being held by Kyiv.

The two men asked British Prime Minister Boris Johnson to exchange them for pro-Russian politician Viktor Medvedchuk.

Mr Pinner, addressing Mr Johnson directly in the TV appearance, said: “We look to exchange myself and Aiden Aslin for Mr Medvedchuk. Obviously I would really appreciate your help in this matter.”

Putin’s foreign ministry said at the time that the fighters were being fed, watered and given help.

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said: “Don’t worry, the Russian side is taking care of them.

“They are fed, watered, and given the necessary assistance. Just like other foreigners who have surrendered or been detained.”

Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said he raised the issue of Russia’s compliance with international rules governing the treatment of prisoners of war during a phone call with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Wednesday.

He did not elaborate further about the prisoners.

More than 1,000 soldiers who surrendered in the city of Mariupol have been transferred to Russia for investigation, Tass news agency cited a Russian law enforcement source as saying on Tuesday.

It comes as Ukraine’s Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova said Kyiv has filed eight more war crimes cases to court in addition to the three sentences already handed down to Russian soldiers.

Ukraine has opened more than 16,000 investigations into possible war crimes since Russia’s invasion began on February 24.

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