Pro-Russian separatists sentence Britons to death for fighting with Ukrainian forces

British and Moroccan citizens They were sentenced to death This Thursday by pro-Moscow rebels in eastern Ukraine to fight on the side of Kyiv.

The three men fought alongside the Ukrainian forces and surrendered to the Russian forces weeks ago.

The Russian news agency (RIA Novosti) said that “two Britons captured by Russian forces during the fighting in Ukraine were sentenced to death.”

Aiden Aslin, 28, and Shawn Benner, 48 They were arrested in April, before they appeared before the court of the self-proclaimed separatist Donetsk People’s Republic.

British Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab said London expected to “represent the laws of armed conflict”. Photo: Tolga Akmen / AFP

Understandably, the couple admitted to “training them to do this.” terrorist activitiesBoth are veterans of Afghanistan.

According to reports, the third man, who is of Moroccan nationality Saadoun IbrahimHe was also sentenced to death.

“The Supreme Court of the House of People’s Representatives issued the rulings.

The men said that another Russian news agency, TASS They intended to appeal.

Sean Penner

Sean Penner

Pictures previously published by the RIA on social media appeared to show an interpreter asking Aslin if he would confess to a crime, to which Aslin replied: “Yes.”

In the video, the two Britons stand on the High Court bench alongside Ibrahim, locked behind bars.

At the age of 48, Pinner was photographed in April saying he was caught defending Mariupol, His adopted city. The man has dual citizenship. British Ukrainian And he was fighting in that port, which the Russians captured after that.

His family stressed at the time that “he was not a volunteer or a mercenary, but rather Officially served in the Ukrainian armyHe was on his fourth tour of duty in Ukraine, having served in the British Army for nine years. He has been living in the country since 2018 and has a Ukrainian wife.

His family shared a picture of this 48-year-old former British Army soldier.

Aiden Aslin’s family said on Tuesday it had been a “very sensitive and emotional period” and that they had been working with the Ukrainian government and the British Foreign Office. To try to free the 28-year-old.

The three convicted during the trial.  Photo: Reuters

The three convicted during the trial. Photo: Reuters

“Aiden is a very loved and sorely missed man and we hope he will be released very soon,” they said in a statement. His military comrades demonstrate his bravery and solidarity in combat.

The former nursing worker joined the Ukrainian armed forces as a naval commander in 2018, has applied for citizenship and has a Ukrainian girlfriend.

violating the Geneva Convention

Former Conservative Cabinet Secretary Robert Jenrick denounced what he called “false accusations” Facing the British couple. He accused Russia of “a flagrant violation of international law”.

Referring to Aslin, Jenrick told the BBC: “This is a British citizen. But he also has Ukrainian citizenship and has joined the Ukrainian armed forces as usual before. Putin’s illegal invasionHe was serving in the armed forces.

He added that the Russian forces arrested him in accordance with international law and the Geneva Conventionit must be kept properly and returned to Ukraine As soon as possible, perhaps through a prisoner exchange.”

British Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab said on Monday that the British government expected to “represent the laws of armed conflict” and that the Foreign Office would make “all protests”.

They are the first to be convicted and they are violating the Geneva Convention because those they call “mercenaries” They were part of the Ukrainian regiments He holds dual citizenship since before the invasion. Russia prevented the trial from being held in its country To avoid an international conflict With these types of sentences.

They were proclaimed by a court of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic “Guilty of taking action to violently overthrow power”, a crime punishable by death in an unrecognized republic. They were also convicted of mercenary activities and terrorism.

They will appeal the ruling

On Thursday, the official Russian news agency RIA Novosti reported that the three, Aidan Aslin, Sean Benner and Saudon Ibrahim, They will face the death squad. They have a month to appeal.

After a series of setbacks in the war that has lasted more than three months, Russia has set its sights on the Donbass industrial zone of mines and coal plants, where Moscow-backed separatists have been fighting Ukrainian forces for years and where they already had swathes of land. before the invasion.

Donbass war

But, as elsewhere, the Russian advance was not as quickly as expected. The battle for control of Severodonetsk became Street fightwhich was relatively rare in the conflict.

Severodonetsk, which became the administrative capital of the Luhansk region after the separatists seized the original in 2014, It is the last stronghold From the area that Russia has not yet declared its control.

Zelensky called the arduous battle for Severodonetsk the “outpost” of the Greater Donbass Battle, consisting of Luhansk and Donetsk.

“In many ways, the fate of our Donbass has been decided,” Zelensky said Wednesday, in his late-night video address, which was recorded on the street outside his office in Kyiv.

Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov said in a Facebook post that every day Up to 100 Ukrainian soldiers were killed. “We as a country cannot afford to bleed and lose our best sons and daughters,” he said.

Analysts have suggested that Russia’s slow progress in Donbass may eventually open up the possibility A negotiated settlement of the war.

Paris correspondent

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