Putin’s propagandists laugh at death sentences for Aiden Aslin and Shaun Pinner

Vladimir Putin‘s propagandists have gloated over death sentences handed to two Britons fighting in Ukraine – laughing at the prospect of the pair being shot while accusing the government of doing ‘nothing’ to help them. 

Aiden Aslin, 28, and Shaun Pinner, 48, were handed death sentences last week by a rogue court in the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic, which accused them of being mercenaries. In fact, the two men are regular soldiers in the Ukrainian army.

Liz Truss, a favourite target of Russian state media, spoke out last week to condemn the sentences which she said had ‘absolutely no legitimacy’ while vowing ‘to do everything we can to support’ the imprisoned pair. 

Vladimir Solovyov, a man often known as Putin’s mouthpiece, took aim at Truss on his show Sunday night – joking that Aiden and Pinner will be shot whether she recognises the sentence or not, and her words will not bring them back to life.

Nataliya Nikonorova, the ‘foreign minister’ of the DPR, spoke to Solovyov – saying she was ‘surprised’ that Truss refused to recognise the judgement.

Solovyov responded, to laughs from the other guests: ‘So if something terrible happens and they are executed, they will not recognise their deaths?

‘Will this bring these people back to life?’

Nikonorova added: ‘They have not taken a single step to somehow try to participate in the fate of these citizens. No-one is helping them.’

Separately, Olga Skabeyeva – known as Putin’s ‘Iron Doll’ – accused the British Foreign Office of being unsure how to help Aslin and Pinner.

‘Liz Truss, the head of the Foreign Office, called the sentence illegal and promised to pull the Englishmen out – and to do it via Kyiv.

‘Good luck, Liz,’ she quipped.

Aslin and Pinner – a former British solider – are actually both members of the regular Ukrainian army, having moved to the country in 2018 and married Ukrainian women.

Both served multiple active tours of duty as part of Ukraine’s marine corps along the old frontline between Ukraine and Russian-occupied regions in the Donbas.

British war prisoners Aiden Aslin (first from the left) and Shaun Pinner (second from the left) were sentenced to death penalty by Donetsk court on June 9

British war prisoners Aiden Aslin (first from the left) and Shaun Pinner (second from the left) were sentenced to death penalty by Donetsk court on June 9

They were then caught up in the war when Putin ordered his soldiers to seize the rest of the country on February 24. 

The UK has opted not to directly negotiate with Russia for the release of the men, and instead go via Kyiv, because the two men are Ukrainian troops.

Downing Street fears that making direct approaches to Moscow will add legitimacy to the false claims that both men are mercenaries.

Negotiating with the DPR has also been ruled out, over fears it will grant legitimacy to a ‘government’ that is not recoginsed internationally. 

British diplomats have raised the case with their Moscow counterparts to voice concerns, but are allowing Kyiv to take the lead on trying to get the men released.

Russia wants Britain to engage directly with the DPR, a move that would mean recognising what the West sees as an illegal pro-Putin regime established on Ukrainian territory.

‘It means that a terrible tragedy will come to these people’s families,’ said Solovyov.

Referring to the condemned men, Nikonorova said that Britain does ‘not even try to alleviate their fate’

The trio are lodging legal appeals and these will be heard before any pleas to Pushilin for pardons

The trio are lodging legal appeals and these will be heard before any pleas to Pushilin for pardons

Solovyov then mocked Britain’s ambassador to Ukraine, Melinda Simmons, accusing her of eating croissants named after Boris Ju=ohnson instead of negotiating a way out for the men.

‘She probably has more important issues to deal with,’ said Nikonorova.

‘Melinda is having fun,’ taunted Solovyov.

‘Her subjects are about to be executed, and she found a wonderful croissant called ‘Boris Johnsonuk’ and is eating it merrily.

‘So she doesn’t care about the fate of those people who are her subjects.’

A suspicion is that Putin wants the men to be bartered for pro-Kremlin prisoners held in Ukraine, like politician and tycoon Viktor Medvedchuk, a friend of the Kremlin leader.

Meanwhile, the lives of the men are being used as a propaganda tool by Russian state TV and the DPR.

Truss did not ‘order’ British volunteers to go to Ukraine but said in February: ‘People can make their own decisions,’ she said.

‘The people of Ukraine are fighting for freedom and democracy, not just for Ukraine, but for the whole of Europe.’

She said that ‘if people want to support that struggle, I would support them in doing that.’

Both Aslin and Pinner had been in Ukraine long term and were seen as members of the Ukrainian armed forces. They did not travel there based on the foreign secretary’s words.

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