Ukraine: Russian-backed forces release five Britons held captive, Truss says
Five British nationals arrested in Ukraine and held by Russian-backed forces are being sent back to their families, Prime Minister Liz Strauss has revealed.
“Very welcome news that five British nationals held by Russian-backed proxies in eastern Ukraine are returning safely, ending months of uncertainty and pain for them and their families,” she tweeted. .
His MP Robert Jenrick said British fighter Aiden Aslin, sentenced to death by a pro-Russian court, was among those freed.
He tweeted: “Aiden’s return has brought months of painful uncertainty to Aiden’s beloved Newark family, who have been subjected to Aiden’s false trial every day but never lost hope. When they are united as family again, they can finally live together in peace.”
Mr Aslin, 28, moved to Ukraine in 2018 and later joined the country’s armed forces.
Russia has released 10 foreign prisoners of war under the mediation of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the Saudi foreign ministry said.
The ministry said the list included nationals of the United States, Britain, Croatia, Morocco and Sweden, where a plane carrying prisoners landed.
“The relevant Saudi authorities have received and transferred them from Russia to Saudi Arabia and are facilitating the process in their respective countries,” the statement said.
The ministry has not identified the prisoners. A Saudi official said five Britons, two Americans, a Croat, a Moroccan and a Swede.
It is unclear if the five include Sean Pinner, who was arrested along with Mr Aslin and sentenced to death in Donetsk, one of Russia’s surrogates in eastern Ukraine.
Despite intense pressure from Washington, Riyadh’s traditional ally, to isolate Russia, Prince Mohammed has maintained close ties with Russia’s Vladimir Putin, including within the framework of the OPEC+ oil producer group.
Ms Truss thanked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky “for his efforts to secure the release of detainees, as well as for Saudi Arabia’s assistance”.
“Russia must end its relentless exploitation of prisoners of war and civilian detainees for political purposes,” she added.
Foreign Secretary James Cleverley said: “This ends months of uncertainty and pain they and their families have faced at the hands of Russia, including the threat of the death penalty.
“Sadly, that was not the case with one of the detainees and our thoughts remain with Paul Yuri’s family.”
The British aid volunteer died earlier this year while being held by Russian-backed separatists.