Anger mounted on Friday over the fate of two Britons sentenced to death by a ‘kangaroo court’ in occupied territory Ukraine.
Aiden Aslin, 28, and Shaun Pinner, 48, were captured fighting for Ukrainian forces and sentenced on Thursday for carrying out terrorist acts in a court in the self-declared People’s Republic of Donetsk, the eastern region of Ukraine. Ukraine today at the center of the war.
But while Foreign Secretary Liz Truss condemned the decision as a “fictitious judgment”, Ministry of Foreign Affairs officials are reluctant to escalate a diplomatic row with Russia lest it bolster his claim that the two men are foreign mercenaries.
Britain maintains that the two men, who have family in Ukraine, are members of the Ukrainian military and should therefore be treated as prisoners of war.
Ministers hope they can work with Ukraine to secure their release through a prisoner swap with Russia.
Ms Truss raised the case of the prisoners in a phone call with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba on Friday.
The Foreign Minister tweeted: “I spoke with Ukrainian FM Dmytro Kuleba to discuss efforts to secure the release of POWs held by Russian proxies.
“The judgment against them is a flagrant violation of the Geneva Convention.
“The UK continues to support Ukraine against Putin’s barbaric invasion.”
Officials stressed earlier that while the phone call had been on the agenda for “a few days” and was to cover UK support for Ukraine more broadly, Ms Truss would raise the issue of the two captured Britons.
In a tweet, she said: “I totally condemn the sentencing of Aiden Aslin and Shaun Pinner being held by Russian proxies in eastern Ukraine.
“They are prisoners of war. It is a fictitious judgment without any legitimacy.
On Friday, Robert Jenrick, the Tory MP for Newark where Mr Aslin lived, called on Ms Truss to summon the Russian ambassador to the Foreign Office and send the “clearest possible signal” to Russia that the way in which both men are being treated is unacceptable.
“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has not confirmed whether it will convene the [Russian] still an ambassador, but I hope they will because I think we should send the clearest possible signal that this is unacceptable behaviour, ”he told Good Morning Britain d ‘ITV.
“My constituent has a Ukrainian partner, joined the Ukrainian Armed Forces in the normal way long before Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine, and was captured in Mariupol along with many other Ukrainians. soldiers.
“But instead of being treated normally according to the Geneva Convention (…), he was subjected to this appalling show trial as a puppet court and ultimately sentenced to death. There is no credibility in the case of Russia here, whatever.
A senior Ukrainian official said Russia wanted to use the captured Britons as “hostages” to pressure the West over peace talks.
Vadym Denysenko, an adviser to the Interior Ministry, said: “The trial of foreigners raises the stakes in the negotiation process of the Russian Federation. They use them as hostages to pressure the world during the negotiation process.
Education Minister Robin Walker said the government would use “all diplomatic channels” to pressure Russian-backed authorities to treat Britons in accordance with international law.
“We have always been clear that these people should be treated as prisoners of war under the Geneva Convention, there is no basis on which they can be tried,” he said.
Mr. Aslin and Mr. Pinner were both members of regular Ukrainian military units fighting in Mariupol, the southern port city that fell to Russian forces last month after weeks of heavy fighting. A third man, Moroccan national Saaudun Brahim, was sentenced on Thursday alongside MM. Aslin and Pinner.
Mr Pinner’s local MP Richard Fuller told the BBC today he had spoken with the prisoner’s mother.
He said: “What is paramount on his mind is access to proper health services so they can make sure that Shaun and Aiden are okay and that there has been no mishap. coercion.
“And that they have access to independent legal advice as they seek to prepare their defense against this sham trial and judgment which is completely contrary to international law.”
Following the judgment handed down yesterday by the Donetsk court, the three men were informed that they had one month to appeal and possibly benefit from a reduction in sentence.
The governor of Ukraine’s Luhansk region, Serhiy Haidai, said the British would have signed official documents when they entered the Ukrainian armed forces and the verdict is therefore “not applicable to them, even if they are not Ukrainians”.