A second British fighter has been captured by Russian forces in Ukraine while h was defending the besieged city of Mariupol, and has been paraded on TV.
Ex-British Army soldier Shaun Pinner, 48, was known to have been serving as a ‘contract soldier’ with Kyiv’s forces fighting off the Russian invasion.
Looking clean-shaven with no visible wounds, he said on the broadcast: ‘I am Shaun Pinner. I am a citizen of the United Kingdom. I was captured in Mariupol.
‘I am part of 36th brigade, 1st Battalion Ukrainian Marine. I was fighting in Mariupol for five to six weeks and now I am in the Donetsk People’s Republic.’
His capture comes after Russia seized 28-year-old former care worker Aiden Aslin on Tuesday. He had also been fighting in Ukraine. There is concern for his safety amid fears that he could treated as a spy by the Kremlin.
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Brit fighter Shaun Pinner has been captured by Russian forces after surrendering in Mariupol. He was paraded on Russian television looking clean-shaven with no visible wounds. He said on the broadcast: ‘I am Shaun Pinner’
Shaun Pinner, 48, was known to have been serving as a ‘contract soldier’ with Kyiv forces, fighting side by side with Ukrainian marines to defend the key strategic port of Mariupol
He reportedly told his Russians captors that ‘he doesn’t want war and wants to go home’
Pinner was shown on a military TV channel linked to war journalist Andrey Rudenko.
He reportedly told the Russians that ‘he doesn’t want war and wants to go home’.
Pinner now faces interrogation by the Russian Investigative Committee, it was announced today.
He was described as ‘an English mercenary who served in the 36th brigade of the Ukrainian Armed Forces Marines as a stormtrooper and is now in captivity.
‘This is the second Englishman caught in Mariupol.’
His fate in the hands of the Russians and the separatist authorities in Donetsk remains uncertain.
In early March, around a week after Vladimir Putin launched his brutal invasion of Ukraine, Pinner gave a hard-hitting dispatch from near the front line, describing the situation as ‘chaos’.
Since the war began, Pinner had been fighting as a ‘contract soldier’ alongside the Ukrainian armed forces. At the time, he said he had endured a ‘week of intense fighting’.
The 48-year-old, who previously served in the Royal Anglian Regiment, also confirmed a number of his squad had died in the early days of the war, saying : ‘We’ve lost a couple of guys today’.
Mr Pinner filmed the dispatch as Vladimir Putin’s men laid siege to Kyiv and other major Ukranian cities. In the video he does not reveal his location for security reasons. Since then, Russian forces have pulled back from the Kyiv region to refocus their efforts on the east of the country.
Pinner now faces interrogation by the Russian Investigative Committee, it was announced today
Mr Pinner, who previously served in the Royal Anglian Regiment, said he fought with the Ukrainian army as a ‘contract soldier
The first British fighter captured in Mariupol was former care worker Aiden Aslin.
Russia’s state TV channels have broadcast suspect footage of Aslin being questioned by his captors after he was also forced to surrender in Mariupol.
Mr Aslin, 28, joined the Ukrainian marines four years ago. He has dual UK-Ukrainian citizenship and a Ukrainian fiancee, yet Russia appears determined to brand him an enemy agent rather than a prisoner of war.
The distinction is significant as under Russian law, those suspected of espionage face interrogation and lengthy prison sentences.
Whereas POWs are released at the end of hostilities, convicted spies may remain behind bars, perhaps until an exchange of agents can be arranged.
Kremlin-approved TV reporter Andrey Rudenko said in a Russian news broadcast Mr Aslin was an English mercenary ‘used [by the West] to perform various delicate tasks’, adding: ‘I am sure he will be able to shed light on the actions of Western intelligence agencies in Ukraine.’
An image uploaded to his social media shows Aiden, 28, bruised, beaten and in handcuffs
A second image, posted by a pro-Russia Telegram account, was closer to captured Aiden’s cut
Mr Aslin, from Newark, Nottinghamshire, was paraded on TV with his face bruised. It is thought he is being held in a military detention facility.
Footage shows him being questioned by one of his captors off camera and he supposedly agrees with the suggestion that ‘those who stood with you [in Ukraine], they are killers’.
It remains unclear whether the recording was doctored for political purposes.
But last night Mr Aslin’s brother Nathan Wood said: ‘People should not believe anything the Russians say or are making my brother say. He is being held against his will and forced to say whatever they tell him to.
‘Anything that comes out of my brother’s mouth now, and the mouths of his Russian captors, are lies.’
Both Pinner and Aslin are believed to have been captured while fighting with Ukrainian soldiers to defence Mariupol, on the Sea of Azov in southeastern Ukraine.
The city has seen the worst fighting of the seven-week-long war. Home to 400,000 people before Russia’s invasion, the city has been reduced to rubble by seemingly indiscriminate Russian shelling.
Russian forces have in recent days made advances in Mariupol with Moscow claiming on Wednesday that its troops had taken control of the final Ukrainian strongholds in the city including the Azovstal industrial complex, where Kyiv’s forces have been holed up in a hellish last stand for several days.
But Ukrainian marines who have teamed up with the Azov regiment to defend Mariupol yesterday appeared in a video to rebuff the claims as they denounced more than 1,000 fellow soldiers who surrendered to Russian forces on Wednesday and vowed to do ‘whatever it takes’ to protect the city.
A view shows the gates of the Illich Steel and Iron Works damaged during Ukraine-Russia conflict in the southern port city of Mariupol, Ukraine April 15, 2022
Over 20,000 civilians are believed to have been killed, tens of thousands remain trapped in the city, and countless numbers have fled. It is one of a number of sites were international investigators believe war crimes have taken place – including the bombing of a maternity war and of a theatre sheltering hundreds of people.
Amid fears that Mariupol could soon fall under complete Russian control, Ukraine said on Friday that it was still trying to break the siege of the city, as fighting raged around the city’s massive steel works and port.
If Moscow captures Mariupol, it would be the only big city to fall to the Russians so far. Russia’s defence ministry said it had captured the city’s Illich steel works. The report could not be confirmed.
Ukrainian defenders are mainly believed to be holding out in Azovstal, another huge steel works. Both plants are owned by Metinvest.
‘The situation in Mariupol is difficult and hard. Fighting is happening right now. The Russian army is constantly calling on additional units to storm the city,’ defence ministry spokesperson Oleksandr Motuzyanyk told a televised briefing, although he said the Russians have not completely captured it.
Motuzyanyk said Russia had used long-range bombers to attack Mariupol for the first time since its Feb. 24 invasion.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said he discussed the fate of the besieged port city of Mariupol in a meeting on Friday with the country’s military leaders and the heads of its intelligence agencies.
‘The details cannot be made public now, but we are doing everything we can to save our people,’ Zelensky said in his nightly video address to the nation.
A local resident crosses a street damaged during Ukraine-Russia conflict in the southern port city of Mariupol, Ukraine April 15, 2022
On Friday, it was alleged that Russian troops in Mariupol are digging up thousands of dead civilians and burning their bodies in mobile crematoriums in a possible bid to destroy evidence of atrocities like the ones discovered in Bucha and other towns outside Kyiv when the Russians withdrew from the region.
Mariupol’s city council – in a post on Telegram – said Moscow’s men were exhuming bodies buried in residential courtyards within the city and were assigning watchmen to each square to stop locals from reburying their dead friends and relatives.
‘Why the exhumation is being carried out and where the bodies will be taken is unknown,’ the council said in a statement posted on the Telegram messaging app.
On Thursday, Mayor Vadym Boychenko warned corpses ‘carpeted the streets’ of Mariupol as he accused Moscow of incinerating tens of thousands of civilians killed during a siege that has trapped well over 100,000 civilians in desperate need of food, water and heating.
From the hellhole of Syria to the ruins of Mariupol: How British care worker accused by Putin of being a Western spy took up arms fighting ISIS… before joining Ukraine’s marines to expel the Russian invaders
By Jack Wright For Mailonline
Defeated, beaten and bruised, with a swollen eye and a nasty gash across his forehead, Aiden ‘Johnny’ Aslin’s worst fears that he would become a pawn in Putin’s deranged ‘bulls**t’ propaganda if he was captured by the Russians tragically came true this week.
The British former care worker was paraded on Kremlin-backed TV from an undisclosed location after surrendering when he ran out of ammunition in Mariupol, the besieged southern port city which for many has become the lasting image of Moscow’s invasion.
Aslin, who appeared to have been tortured, was described as a ‘mercenary’ who had ‘fought on the side of the Nazis in Ukraine’ by Rossiya 1 TV news presenter Andrey Rudenko, as he was asked a series of questions about his motives for taking up arms.
Fighting with Ukraine’s 36th Marine Brigade, who had themselves teamed up with the Azov regiment, a neo-Nazi unit of the National Guard of Ukraine which has allegedly committed war crimes in the east, Aslin was accused of ‘shelling kids in Donbas for years’, before he was forced to denounce his Ukrainian army comrades as ‘criminals’.
Now facing the nightmare possibility that Aslin will be bundled to Russia and executed, the 28-year-old’s terrified family today insisted that he is not a mercenary, and begged Putin to abide by the terms of the Geneva Convention on the treatment of prisoners of war.
They also pointed out that for Aslin – who has lived in Ukraine for the past four years, has a Ukrainian fiancee and joint citizenship – is not a volunteer, but a ‘legit’ marine who has made the former Soviet republic’s fight for national survival his own fight.
It is a surprising twist in the tale for those unacquainted with Aslin’s tale – from taking up arms against ISIS maniacs in one of the worst wars to have engulfed the Middle East in decades, to his struggle against the British state after it accused him of terrorism.
Born in Newark, Nottinghamshire in 1994, Aslin worked as a care worker before deciding to join the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), the US-backed militia which had spearheaded the fight against ISIS in Syria, to fight the jihadists in 2015.
Having learned of the atrocities committed by ISIS and their abuse of Kurdish people, and convinced that Britain was not doing enough to bring about their defeat, he made the extraordinary decision to run towards the sound of gunfire.
Aiden Aslin is pictured in military gear. Born in Newark in 1994, he worked as a care worker before deciding to join the YPG, the US-backed militia which had spearheaded the fight against ISIS in Syria, to fight jihadists in 2015
Aiden Aslin poses for a photo in military gear. He has lived in Ukraine for the past four years
Aiden Aslin smiles for the camera. He was persuaded of Ukraine’s cause against Russia and moved to the country in 2018
In an interview talking about his experiences of fighting Islamic State, using a different name for the terror network, Aslin said: ‘I support UK air strikes against IS. Anyone who doesn’t, feel free to come over and see for yourself the difference the air strikes make.
‘Daesh is like a cancer. You leave it untreated and it is going to keep growing. Anti-war protesters have no idea what kind of people Daesh are. They can’t be negotiated with.’
That April, he bought a ticket at Gatwick Airport to fly to the Iraqi city of Sulaymaniya, where the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) had its headquarters in the Qandil Mountains.
But before he could board the plane, he was stopped by UK Border Police who questioned his claim that he was going there on a backpacking trip.
He later described how he eventually admitted to officers that he was joining the fight against ISIS – and was allowed to continue his journey.
Aslin poses for a photo on a tour of Syria in 2015
Aslin spent about 10 months in the YPG’s ranks in Syria, where he was linked to the Lions of Rojava unit and involved in the Coalition-backed offensive that expelled ISIS from al-Hawl.
Before his arrest in Britain, Aslin described dodging artillery and incoming bullets as his unit played a key role in capturing enemy territory near Mount Sinjar – to which tens of thousands of refugees headed after fleeing ISIS.
The Lions of Rojava were taking on gunmen from ISIS in al-Hawl when Aslin’s makeshift armoured car came under direct enemy fire.
‘I was going towards IS fighters who were less than 60 metres away,’ he said. ‘I was in a home-made tank. I heard the bullets hitting the outside of the tank and waited for rocket-propelled grenades to hit.
‘The village had a lot of improvised explosive devices too, so as well as looking out for Daesh, we also had to watch where we stepped. They also tried to counter-attack us using car bombs.
‘But mainly, they were driven out of the area by air strikes. We were able to find the frequency for their radios and heard a conversation between Daesh commanders. Our female fighters translated this and said the enemy were running out of food and water.’
It is thought that Aslin spent approximately ten months in the YPG’s ranks before making his journey back to Europe.
After negotiating with the British Consulate in Erbil because he had lost his passport, he landed at Heathrow on February 3, 2016, where he was arrested on the plane and taken to Nottinghamshire Police headquarters for questioning over a suspected terrorism offence – all while his family had been waiting for him.
Aslin was held for 30 hours while police quizzed him over claims he had allegedly ‘engaged in the preparation to fight against Daesh’ and ‘possessed articles for terrorist purposes in Iraq/Syria’. He was then arrested and placed on bail before all charges were dropped in October 2016.
Aslin’s bail conditions meant he had to report to Newark Police Station three times a week and could not travel abroad.
However, the YPG was not a proscribed terror group in the UK at the time, and his case attracted protests from the Kurdish community in the UK and national politicians – including his then local Conservative MP Robert Jenrick.
‘Mr Aslin took an extremely brave decision to fight with our allies,’ Mr Jenrick crowed. ‘It is now Home Office and police policy to arrest such individuals under counter-terrorism legislation on their return to UK. Even if, as is most likely, they are not charged, that will remain on their record and they will not be able, for example, to enter the United States for the rest of their lives.’
Aiden Aslin is pictured circled left in this image taken from social media in Ukraine
Aiden (circled) is pictured with Ukraine’s 36th Marine Brigade, who fought with Azov in Mariupol
Aiden Aslin is pictured with a shaven head in Ukraine. He has been fighting the Russian invaders
After his bail was lifted, Aslin thundered: ‘No fighter should have to go through what I went through if it can be avoided. I feel vindicated.
‘I have had nine months of being made to feel like a terrorist. I should never have been arrested. I should never have spent any time on bail. I should have been interviewed for any intelligence I might hold on ISIS and allowed to go free.’
After his passport was returned to him by Nottinghamshire Police, Aslin then left the UK for a second time in January 2017 to join the battle to reclaim Raqqa from ISIS.
That July, fearing that he would be arrested a second time if he went back to Britain, Aslin left the Middle East for Greece, where he said he was doing ‘humanitarian work’ teaching English at a Kurdish refugee camp.
In a fascinating turn of events, he decided to go home on a flight on July 16, before changing his mind. It later transpired that armed police stormed the plane after it landed in the UK, only to find he was not on board.
There appeared to be no love lost either between Aslin and Britain.
‘I did my seven months [in Syria] and was just exhausted. So I came to Greece to do humanitarian work at a refugee camp for Kurds to help teach them English so they have a smoother time going though Europe and can better report exploitation and sexual harassment, missing family members and things like that,’ he told his local newspaper.
‘I’m probably going to live in Greece.’
He added: ‘I’m done with Britain’s treatment towards us when I was in Rojava. I had met members of the US 82nd Airborne Division just outside the town of Jezra during the operation to take it and, for a few days, got to know them by joking around the fire and socialising.
‘Over there we are allies, but when we return we are treated as the enemy.’
In September 2017, Aslin ultimately decided to risk it by flying back to Britain. He was then arrested at Manchester Airport at around 2am under the Terrorism Act, as the Home Office had warned.
It is not clear if any charges were brought against Aslin, but he then moved to Ukraine in 2018 after falling in love with a woman from Mykolaiv.
While he had been fighting with the YPG in 2015, he had met Ukrainian volunteer who had fought against Russian forces in the Donbas.
Whatever was said, Aslin was persuaded of Ukraine’s cause against the Russian aggressor, and signed up for the regular military after moving to Kyiv.
Two months of basic training later, Aslin qualified as a private in the Ukrainian marine infantry. He completed three tours of the Donbas frontline before Putin’s armies burst through the border on February 24 this year.
Aslin, who uses the nom de guerre ‘Cossack Gundi’, had been due to get married last week to his Ukrainian fiancee, who remains unnnamed.
But as his unit, the 36th Marine Brigade, became surrounded by Russian forces bombarding the city of Mariupol, his communication with the outside world became increasingly sporadic.
Aiden’s younger brother previously told MailOnline the fighter’s family had received little information about his whereabouts or his condition, and expressed concern he would be treated poorly by his Russian captors.
It was to their horror that they then saw him paraded on Russian state television this week, appearing as if he had been tortured.
Reports on Russian TV claimed Aslin was ‘shelling kids in Donbas for years’ and will ‘face justice as a foreign mercenary’, rather than treating him as a prisoner of war.
In later video, Aslin was interrogated by his captors and forced to denounce his co-combatants as ‘criminals’. He was supposedly asked on TV: ‘You said [on social media] you came to protect Ukraine, but those who stood with you, they are killers.’
He supposedly replies: ‘I think you are correct. I said we must go home. If Ukraine really wants peace it would leave the Donbas. From day one in Mariupol I always said that we needed to leave, because Donbas is recognised as independent, Luhansk too.’
He is also asked: ‘Why did they [the Ukrainians] kill peaceful people?’
Aslin supposedly replies: ‘Because they are criminals, they killed people when people went for food. The Ukrainian army picked up all the food from supermarkets and forced people to carry water.’
When Aslin is asked: ‘What was your post?’, he supposedly replies: ‘I refused to fire. I told a commander I didn’t want to fight. I spent all the time in a bunker because I was scared.’
Rudenko, the TV reporter, then tells viewers: ‘Aiden Aslin is a subject of Great Britain. He is an English mercenary and fought on the side of the Nazis in Ukraine. In my opinion he is not an ordinary mercenary but a person who was used [by the West] to perform various delicate tasks.
‘And I sure he will be able to shed light on the actions of Western intelligence agencies in Ukraine.’
So what of Aslin’s plight now? Outside of further British diplomatic pressure, it is not clear what will happen to the prisoner of war.
Aslin’s anguished mother Angela Wood, 50, had told the Mail from Newark: ‘I’m in bits. My son will be just as scared as we are.
‘I now hold Vladimir Putin to the terms of the Geneva Convention.’
Whether Putin will restrain himself remains to be seen.