The family of a British soldier fighting for the Ukrainian army have told how he phoned them in the middle of the night from the front line to say that he was surrendering to the Russian forces because he had run out of food and ammunition.
Former care worker Aiden Aslin, 28, who moved to Ukraine in 2018 after falling in love with a woman from Mykolaiv, was captured while defending Mariupol against Vladimir Putin’s troops.
Speaking exclusively to MailOnline from the family home in Newark, Nottinghamshire, Mr Aslin’s younger brother, Nathan Wood, begged the Kremlin to look after him.
‘We don’t have too much information at this stage,’ said Mr Wood, 25. ‘All we know is that Aiden’s unit commander has been in communication with his opposite number in the Russia Army negotiating a possible surrender early this morning.
Nathan Wood, (right) begged the Kremlin to look after his brother Aiden Aslin (left) who phoned his family in the middle of the night from the front line to say that he was surrendering to the Russian forces because he had run out of food and ammunition.
‘Aiden called me at 3am today and mentioned they were having to lay down arms because of a lack of food and ammunition.
‘It was a very brief call as we got cut off but I could tell by the tone of his voice that he wasn’t happy.
‘As a family we don’t want to say too much because Aiden’s well-being and safety is our prime concern but President Putin has made dire warnings to those Westerners caught fighting for the Ukrainian Army.
‘Aiden has been called a mercenary but that isn’t true, he enrolled with the Ukrainian Army four years ago and has dual citizenship.
‘If the Russians do have Aiden captive, we would want to remind them of the Geneva Convention and to treat him and other soldiers in a humane and dignified way.
Aiden Aslin is a former carer who previously fought against Isis in Syria. Now he says his unit will have to surrender to the Russians
Aiden Aslin, 28, moved to Ukraine in 2018 after falling in love with a woman from Mykolaiv , another Black Sea port close to Odessa. He is now in his fourth year with the Ukranian armed forces and was due to get married this Spring and complete his service in September
‘This is a worrying time for our family. Russia has a reputation with how it deals with its prisoners. Those soldiers from Snake Island, who told the Russians to ‘go f*** yourself’, talked about being tortured before they were released.
‘Aiden may well become used as a propaganda tool by the Russians and be paraded about. We just hope they don’t do anything drastic. We want him to be safe,’ he added.
A British soldier fighting alongside Ukrainian marine in Mariupol has said his unit has no choice but to surrender to the Russians.
Former care worker Aiden Aslin, 28, who moved to Ukraine in 2018 after falling in love with a woman from Mykolaiv, said forces have run out of supplies with Russians closing in.
It comes after claims Russia used chemical weapons dropped from a drone over Mariupol last night, as Putin continues his brutal assault on the strategic port city.
Aslin said in a message posted via a contact on Twitter: ‘It’s been 48 days, we tried our best to defend Mariupol but we have no choice but to surrender to Russian forces.
‘We have no food and no ammunition. It’s been a pleasure everyone, I hope this war ends soon.’
The post added: ‘We’re putting this out after direct consultation with his family. Until we’re told otherwise we’ll continue working on sharing the facts of the war. Hope for a prisoner exchange.’
Aslin, from Newark, Nottinghamshire, is now in his fourth year with the Ukranian armed forces and was due to get married this Spring and complete his service in September.
Aslin previously spent ten months in Iraq fighting Islamic State. But on his return home in 2016 he was arrested.
He was held for 30 hours after officers boarded his plane at Heathrow, where members of his family were eagerly awaiting his arrival.
Authorities escorted him straight to Nottinghamshire Police headquarters for questioning over a suspected terrorism offence.
When Russia launched their brutal invasion, Aslin was stationed in the Donbass region where separatists and the Ukrainian armed forces have been fighting since 2014.
There are an estimated 10,000 civilians who have been killed by Putin’s army in Mariupol which has seen some of the worst fighting of the war.
Corpses are now ‘carpeted through the streets’ of the crucial port city, according to its mayor Vadym Boychenko.
He accused Russian forces of having blocked weeks of attempted humanitarian convoys into the city in part to conceal the carnage. Boychenko said the death toll in Mariupol alone could surpass 20,000.
Service members of pro-Russian troops drive armoured vehicles during Ukraine-Russia conflict on a road outside the southern port city of Mariupol
Boychenko also gave new details of allegations by Ukrainian officials that Russian forces have brought mobile cremation equipment to Mariupol to dispose of the corpses of victims of the siege.
Russian forces have taken many bodies to a huge shopping centre where there are storage facilities and refrigerators, Boychenko said.
‘Mobile crematoriums have arrived in the form of trucks: You open it, and there is a pipe inside and these bodies are burned,’ he said.
Boychenko spoke from a location in Ukrainian-controlled territory but outside Mariupol.
The mayor said he had several sources for his description of the alleged methodical burning of bodies by Russian forces in the city, but did not further detail the sources of his information.
The discovery of large numbers of apparently executed civilians after Russian forces retreated from cities and towns around the capital, Kyiv, already has prompted widespread condemnation and assertions that Russia is committing war crimes in Ukraine.
The British Ministry of Defence said Russian forces are continuing to pull out of Belarus to support operations in eastern Ukraine, focused on the Donbas region, where Russian-allied separatists have claimed independence.
A view shows the building of a theatre destroyed in the course of Ukraine-Russia conflict in the southern port city of Mariupol
‘Fighting in eastern Ukraine will intensify over the next two to three weeks as Russia continues to refocus its efforts there,’ the ministry said in a tweet.
‘Russian attacks remain focused on Ukrainian positions near Donetsk and Luhansk with further fighting around Kherson and Mykolaiv and a renewed push toward Kramatorsk.’
US officials also point to further signs Russia’s military is gearing up for a major offensive in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region, switching its focus after Russian forces failed in their initial drive to capture Kyiv.
Donbas has been torn by fighting between Russian-allied separatists and Ukrainian forces since 2014, and Russia has recognised the separatists’ claims of independence.
Military strategists say Russian leaders appear to hope local support, logistics and terrain in Donbas favour Russia’s larger and better-armed military, potentially allowing Russian troops to gain more territory and weaken Ukraine’s fighting forces.
Russia has appointed a seasoned general to lead its renewed push in the eastern Donbas region.
A senior US defence official on Monday described a long Russian convoy now rolling toward the eastern city of Izyum with artillery, aviation and infantry support, as part of redeployment for what appears to be the looming Russian campaign.
More artillery is being deployed near the city of Donetsk, while ground combat units that withdrew from around the Kyiv and Chernihiv areas appear destined for refitting and resupplying before they position in Donbas, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal US military assessments.
There are an estimated 10,000 civilians who have been killed by Putin’s army in Mariupol which has seen some of the worst fighting of the war
With their offensive in many parts of the country thwarted, Russian forces have relied increasingly on bombarding cities – a strategy that has flattened many urban areas and killed thousands of people.
The UN children´s agency said nearly two-thirds of all Ukrainian children have fled their homes in the six weeks since Russia´s invasion began. The United Nations has verified 142 children have been killed and 229 injured, though the actual numbers are likely much higher.
Ukrainian authorities accuse Russian forces of committing atrocities, including a massacre in the town of Bucha, outside Kyiv, airstrikes on hospitals and a missile attack that killed at least 57 people last week at a train station.
In Bucha, the work of exhuming bodies from a mass grave in a churchyard resumed.
Galyna Feoktistova waited for hours in the cold and rain in hopes of identifying her 50-year-old son, who was shot and killed more than a month ago, but eventually she went home for some warmth.
‘He’s still there,’ her surviving son, Andriy, said.
In Mariupol, about 120,000 civilians are in dire need of food, water, warmth and communications, the mayor said.
Only those residents who have passed the Russian ‘filtration camps’ are released from the city, Boychenko said.
Ukrainian officials say Russian troops are confiscating passports from Ukrainian citizens, then moving them to the camps in Ukraine´s separatist-controlled east before sending them to distant, economically depressed areas in Russia.
Boychenko said Monday that those who did not pass the ‘filtering’ have been moved to improvised prisons. He said 33,000 people or more have been taken to Russia or separatist territory in Ukraine.
Russian has denied moving people against their will.
President Volodymyr Zelensky warned Ukrainians that Russia might use chemical weapons in Mariupol. ‘We take this as seriously as possible,’ Zelensky said in his nightly address Monday.
Western leaders warned even before Russian troops moved into Ukraine that Russia could resort to unconventional weapons there, particularly chemical agents.
A Russia-allied separatist official, Eduard Basurin, appeared to urge their use Monday, telling Russian state TV that Russian-backed forces should seize a giant metals plant in Mariupol from Ukrainian forces by first blocking all the exits out of the factory. ‘And then we´ll use chemical troops to smoke them out of there,’ he said.
A Ukrainian regiment, without evidence, also claimed Monday that a drone had dropped a poisonous substance in Mariupol. It indicated there were no serious injuries.
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said in a statement that the U.S. could not confirm the drone report out of Mariupol. But Kirby noted the administration´s persistent concerns ‘about Russia´s potential to use a variety of riot control agents, including tear gas mixed with chemical agents, in Ukraine.’
Western military analysts say Russia´s assault increasingly is focusing on an arc of territory stretching from Kharkiv, Ukraine´s second-largest city, in the north, to Kherson in the south.
Questions remain about the ability of depleted and demoralised Russian forces to conquer much ground, however, after determined Ukrainian defenders repelled their advance on Kyiv.