The interrogation on Russian state television of a British ‘mercenary’ who was allegedly captured near Mariupol last week has caused great unrest in his family. The face of Aiden Aslin (28) with handcuffs on his hands appears to have cuts and bruises. “He should be treated as a prisoner of war in accordance with the Geneva Convention,” his mother said in a petition on British news channels.
Her son is neither a mercenary nor a volunteer, Angela Wood said in interviews with the BBC and Sky News on Friday. She thus responded to an interview with Rossia 1, the second largest television channel in Russia, in which Aiden was shown as a mercenary. “He didn’t go there recently thinking‘ I will fight for honor. My son has been there for four years and fought as a legitimate Ukrainian Marine, ”Wood continued.
Aslin, from Newark, Nottingham, moved to Ukraine in 2018 and started living there with his Ukrainian fiancée. The Briton applied for and received Ukrainian citizenship, which means that he now has dual citizenship. The former health worker, who returned from Syria two years earlier where he fought alongside Kurdish fighters against IS, joined the Ukrainian armed forces in his new homeland as a Marine, his family said.
With the 36th Marine Brigade of Ukraine, he defended the southern port city of Mariupol for more than 50 days. His unit was forced to surrender to the Russians last week due to a shortage of supplies. Just before the surrender, Aslin had his last contact with his family in the United Kingdom. “We told him in video messages that we love and support him,” Sister Shannon Tinnegate told Sky News. “In the videos he sent back (see below, ed.), Aiden showed no signs of bodily harm. Anyway, at least now we know he’s still alive. The only thing we can catch now are images of his physical appearance and we no longer get them from the retina. That part is disturbing. ”
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She describes her brother’s video, which was broadcast on Russian state television, as “harmful” and, like the rest of the family, is worried about his health. “She looks exhausted and tired,” the nurse added. “But yes, he fought for more than 50 days, so who wouldn’t look like that?” Uncertainty about his fate is the worst, she says. “Not knowing is the worst.”
During his brother’s interrogation, the Russian presenter first asks him in Russian if he understands the language, to which the 20-year-old responds in Russian ’50/50′. The interrogator then confronts him with his apparently earlier statement that he wanted to protect Ukraine. “But your comrades are murderers,” he writes. The Briton confirms that. “Yes, you’re right.”
He then makes a statement that appears to be pure Russian propaganda. “After Russia recognized the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics (three days before the Russian invasion on February 24, ed.), I said: let’s stop. If Ukraine really wants peace, its troops will leave the Donbass region. We recognize the independence of both the people’s republics and Crimea, “Aslin said.
Then they ask him why the Ukrainian army is killing peaceful civilians. “Because they are criminals,” he replies in English. “First they emptied the supermarkets and then killed people who wanted to pick up food packages somewhere,” the Marine said. He appears to be guilty of crimes allegedly committed by Russian troops in a strategic port city. His statement could also be a reference to the massacre in Butya, a city about 25 kilometers northwest of Kiev. Russian troops killed hundreds of civilians before withdrawing, Ukraine said. Moscow calls it “fake news” that has been staged.
Then the interrogator wants to know if Aslin also killed someone or saw others killing people in his presence. “I didn’t fight,” the Briton replied.
replacement of prisoners
His family has sought help from the British Foreign Office to secure his release. If he does not come, they hope he could be part of a prisoner exchange between Ukraine and Russia. “Whatever has been said about you, we love you and we are proud of you. The whole of Newark and Nottingham is behind you. ”
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