Brits captured by Russia ask to be exchanged for Putins Prince of Darkness

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Two British fighters captured in Ukraine by Russian forces appeared on Russian state TV on Monday and asked to be exchanged for a pro-Russian politician who is being held by the Ukrainian authorities.

It was unclear how freely the two men – Shaun Pinner and Aiden Aslin – were able to talk. Both spoke after being prompted by an unidentified man.

Both asked British Prime Minister Boris Johnson to help bring them home in exchange for Ukraine releasing pro-Russian politician Viktor Medvedchuk, who has been described as Ukraine's "grey cardinal" and "the prince of darkness".

Mr Pinner's family have called on his captors to treat him as a prisoner of war in accordance with international rules.

Footage on Russian television appeared to show Shaun Pinner, 48, in captivity, saying he was captured in Mariupol while fighting with the Ukrainian marines.

The former Royal Anglian soldier, who appeared tired in the video, said he had been fighting in the besieged city for five to six weeks but was now in the breakaway region of Donetsk.

Mr Aslin, 28, was filmed being led around in handcuffs with a cut on his forehead after surrendering to the Russian military in Mariupol last week.

In a statement released by the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO), Mr Pinner's family explained how he became involved in the defence of Ukraine, which they said he considers "his adopted country".

The statement read: "Shaun was a well-respected soldier within the British Army serving in the Royal Anglian Regiment for many years.

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"He served in many tours including Northern Ireland and with the United Nations in Bosnia.

"In 2018 Shaun decided to relocate to Ukraine to use his previous experience and training within the Ukraine military.

"Shaun enjoyed the Ukrainian way of life and considered Ukraine as his adopted country over the last four years. During this time, he met his Ukrainian wife, who is very focused on the humanitarian needs of the country.

"He progressed into the Ukrainian Marines as a proud member of his unit."

The statement continued: "We would like to make it clear he is not a volunteer nor a mercenary, but officially serving with the Ukrainian Army in accordance with Ukrainian legislation.

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"Our family is currently working with the Foreign Office along with the family of Aiden Aslin, who is also being held by the Russian Army to ensure their rights as prisoners of war are upheld according to the Geneva Convention."

The FCDO has been in contact with the families of Mr Pinner and Mr Aslin to support them.

However, the UK's ability to obtain information and provide consular services on the ground is severely limited because of the conflict.

Mr Pinner spoke of his fear of capture in January, telling the Mail on Sunday: "I fear for my life. The Russians will treat us differently if we are captured because we are British. This is always on my mind, that I will be captured."

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