Execution of British fighters ‘will return to bite Vladimir Putin’

Vladimir Putin confronts international scandal over decision to carry out three captured fighters (Photo: AP / Reuters / EPA)

A friend of a British fighter who was captured by Russian troops while fighting in Ukraine says his death sentence on Vladimir Putin could return.

Aiden Aslin, 28, was convicted of taking action against a violent coup in a court in the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic.

Another Briton, 48-year-old Shaun Pinner, and Moroccan national Saaudun Brahim, were also convicted after the three were accused of ‘hiring’.

This was despite the fact that Mr Aslin had both British and Ukrainian citizenshipafter moving to Ukraine in 2017 and legally joining the country’s marines.

Russian state media outlet RIA Novosti reports that the three are set for a firing squad.

Brennan Phillips, a former US soldier who met Mr Aslin in Syria and worked alongside him in Ukraine, said the verdict was a ‘provocation’.

Speaking to BBC Newsnight, Mr Phillips said: ‘I think it will encourage people more than anything.

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Aiden Aslin has been fighting in Ukraine for several years after spending time in Syria against Isis
Putin had previously warned that “mercenaries” would be treated differently, but the United Kingdom insisted that the British prisoners were not such a thing (Photo: EPA)

‘What effect they also thought they would have in this provocation, I do not think and I do not think it will be well received. And they did it as a provocation. ‘

Mr. Phillips, from Tennessee, added that “many people expected” that Russia would “choose the most provocative attitude” – namely the death penalty.

“I do not believe Sean or Aiden will be subject to the death penalty or anything like that,” he said.

“I do believe that their imprisonment among the Russians will be extended a bit, but I wholeheartedly believe and I am very sure that they will be released safely back to their families.”

The British government has insisted that the sentences have no legitimacy and that the couple should be treated as prisoners of war.

Putin met today with Turkmenistan President Serdar Berdymukhamedov in Kremlin (Photo: AFP / Getty Images)
Shaun Pinner is a former British soldier who joined the Ukrainian military after settling in the country in 2018.

Tory MP Bob Seely, who sits on the selection committee for foreign affairs, accused Russia of violating international law.

“I very much hope they are not killed quickly – they can be killed quickly as a shock value,” the Isle of Wight MP said.

‘But if they are not, as everyone expects, then they will be treated as a diplomatic tool and I think the bigger picture here – what is happening – is that the Russians are becoming increasingly aggressive as part of the indirect conflict against the Baltic republics, against the Poles, against the United Kingdom and others who are close to the Ukrainian government and support the Ukrainians in the conflict. ‘

Russian news agency Interfax claimed that the men could appeal against their convictions.

Howard Morrison QC, the UK’s independent war crimes adviser to Ukraine, said the sentence was probably used for ‘negotiation purposes’. He added: “I would be reluctant to call it a judicial process, to be honest.”

“But when it comes to negotiation, it’s difficult to see exactly what the subtext is,” he added.

“Because the British government does not hold prisoners, it is the Ukrainians who are holding the prisoners.”

Mr Morrison said the government’s complaint that the men were prisoners of war who needed to be treated according to the Geneva Conventions was ‘spot on’.

“There should have been no show trial and there should have been absolutely no death penalty,” he said.

Boris Johnson has ordered ministers to do “everything in their power” to confirm the release of two Britons sentenced to death for fighting Russian troops in a “sham” conviction.

Secretary of State Liz Truss discussed efforts to confirm the release of Mr Aslin and Mr Pinner with their Ukrainian counterpart today.

The two Britons, along with the Moroccan national Saaudun Brahim, were paraded on television in a court that was not considered illegal outside Russia and occupied Ukraine (Photo: Reuters)
Russia has tried to recruit mercenaries from Syria to fight for Russia, says Pentagon (Photo: Reuters)

The Ukrainian ambassador to the United Kingdom, Vadym Prystaiko, suggested that negotiations for a possible prisoner exchange with Moscow be under way, as Defense Minister Ben Wallace paid a surprise visit to Kiev for talks with the Ukrainian president. Volodymyr Zelensky.

A relative of Mr Aslin’s urged Britain and Ukraine to ‘do everything in their power to return them to us safely and quickly’.

They said Mr Aslin, 28, and Mr Pinner, 48, ‘are not mercenaries, and never were, and should be treated as prisoners of war because they are fighting as part of the Ukrainian army.

Mr Aslin, originally from Newark-on-Trent in Nottinghamshire, and Mr Pinner were both members of regular Ukrainian military units fighting in Mariupol.

The southern port city that has been the scene of some of the most difficult conflicts since Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

Mr Phillips said Mr Aslin had a well-established life in Ukraine after arriving in 2017 and had not been there to fight there as a ‘tension seeker’.

He said: ‘He has a Ukrainian fiancée. They owned or owned a house outside Mariupol and he was part of the 36th Marine Brigade.

“So, yes, he had a well-established life in Ukraine, Ukrainian citizenship.”

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Execution of British fighters 'will return to bite Vladimir Putin'

Source link Execution of British fighters 'will return to bite Vladimir Putin'

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