Two Britons Fighters sentenced to death

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Prior to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on 24 February, Mr Putin announced that he was recognising the independence of Donetsk and Luhansk, two breakaway regions of eastern Ukraine, in a move condemned by Nato and Western countries.

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A month into its invasion, Russia scaled back its ambitions to capture Kyiv, and instead moved its focus to Donbas. In Severodonetsk, a focal point of the war in recent weeks, Ukrainian troops are engaged in intense street fighting with Russia in the battle for control of the city.

Fast forward, two Britons and a Moroccan who were captured while fighting for Ukraine have been sentenced to death by a Russian proxy court in eastern Ukraine. Britons Aiden Aslin and Shaun Pinner, and Moroccan, Brahim Saaudun are accused of being mercenaries, Russian state media says.

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The court, which is not internationally recognised, is in the pro-Russian so-called Donetsk People’s Republic. The UK and Ukraine have condemned the sentences for violating international laws protecting prisoners of war.

The Britons’ families have insisted they are long-serving members of the Ukrainian military and not mercenaries. The men’s lawyers said they all wished to appeal the sentence, Russia’s Tass news agency reports.

All three men were charged with being mercenaries, the violent seizure of power and undergoing training to carry out terrorist activities, RIA Novosti said.

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Both Foreign Offices ( UK and Ukraine) and Downing Street said they would do what they could to support the two Britons’ release.

Mr Aslin, 28, from Newark, in Nottinghamshire, and Mr Pinner, 48, from Bedfordshire, were captured by Russian forces in April. Their families say they were fighting in the Ukrainian military.

The younger man has a Ukrainian fiancee and both men are said to have lived in Ukraine since 2018.

Many across Europe most especially the UK have condemned the judgment by the Russian court.

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