British fighters captured by Russians warned ‘they face death penalty’


Aiden Aslin, 28, and Shaun Pinner, 48, were fighting alongside the Ukrainians in Mariupol when they were captured (Picture: Reuters)

Two British soldiers taken prisoner while fighting in Ukraine have reportedly been told they face the death penalty.

Shaun Pinner, 48, and Aiden Aslin, 28, were captured within days of each other in the besieged city of Mariupol last month.

They were then paraded on Russian TV, pleading Boris Johnson for a prisoner exchange for the pro-Kremlin politician Viktor Medvedchuk.

Both men have lived in Ukraine with their partners for four years, and were serving in a unit of Ukrainian marines when they were taken.

In a new video, prosecutors of the Donetsk People’s Republic – a pro-Russian breakaway state – told Pinner and Aslin they were charged with a ‘number of crimes against civilians’. 

‘The maximum punishment for these crimes is the death penalty,’ prosecutor Andrei Spivak said.

Aslin was heard saying he understood the accusations against him but did not agree that he had murdered civilians in Mariupol. 


Aiden Aslin. British fighter 'held by Russians'. A BRITISH care worker who joined the Ukrainian military is thought to have surrendered to the Russians. Aiden Aslin, 28, was among the last fighters left in the besieged southern city of Mariupol but said he would have to give himself up after supplies ran out and the situation became hopeless. ?It?s been 48 days, we tried our best to defend Mariupol but we have no choice but to surrender to Russian forces,? Mr Aslin tweeted.

Aiden Aslin, 28, was serving in a unit of Ukrainian marines


Captured Brit Aiden Aslin / British fighter is paraded in handcuffs with a cut to the head and swollen eye after being captured by Russian troops during battle for Mariupol

The first video released by Russia showed Aiden Aslin handcuffed and badly beaten


Aiden Aslin pictured with his wife Diane Aslin Aiden Aslin British fighter captured in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol by Russian forces,

Aiden Aslin settled down in Ukraine with his wife Diane

‘I agree with the fact that I fought on the territory of the DPR, and fought against the soldiers of the DPR in peaceful settlements,’ Aslin said, adding he admitted using arms and weapons systems alongside other foreigners including Pinner.

Pinner appeared drained as he said he understood the charges. Neither of the men openly pled guilty in the footage.

It is unclear if they were informed about the death penalty because the prosecutor separately revealed this to the camera.


Image taken from Shaun Pinner facebook page shows Shaun Pinner on February 2021

Shaun Pinner, 48, is a former Royal Anglian Regiment soldier


Shaun Pinner (Picture: Russian State TV)

Shaun Pinner looked exhausted when he was paraded on Russian TV (Picture: Russian State TV)

Russia has not used the death penalty since 1996 but there are moves to bring it back.

It is highly unlikely the charges – including the death penalty – could have been brought without Russia’s approval. 

The DPR state is unrecognised on the world stage except by Russia. It is part of Ukraine under international law.

Additional reporting from Will Stewart

Get in touch with our news team by emailing us at [email protected].

For more stories like this, check our news page.

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