“They are not mercenaries!” – the British sentenced to death in Donetsk were members of the Armed Forces of Ukraine

The death sentence handed down recently in Donetsk to two Britons and a Moroccan who fought in the ranks of the Armed Forces of Ukraine and surrendered to pro-Russian militants in Mariupol forced the usually restrained British to speak out not very diplomatically. The publications are replete with words from quotes from politicians – “trial”, “shameful trial”, “grotesque”, “disgusting trial in the spirit of Soviet times”, etc. The British Aiden Eslin and Sean Pinner, as well as the Moroccan Saaudun Brahim, were charged under four articles of the so-called “DPR Criminal Code” – “committing a crime as part of a criminal group; violent seizure of power or violent retention of power; mercenary; encourage training in terrorist activities.”

What kind of power does the unrecognized “republic” speak of and how can military personnel officially registered in the Armed Forces of Ukraine be considered mercenaries – questions that the militants of the “DPR” do not give an answer to. But their desire to act as an equal partner in negotiations on the fate of three foreigners and to declare their subjectivity is visible to the naked eye. Say, let the UK negotiate with us at the state level…

Will there be a dialogue between British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the leader of the “DPR” Denis Pushilin? Or will Britain aggressively demand a response from Russia? We'll keep an eye on the situation, but for now let's talk about those who were sentenced.

Aiden Eslin

Eslin, 28, is from Newark, Nottinghamshire. He moved to Ukraine in 2018, here in Nikolaev he met his bride, settled in this city and received Ukrainian citizenship, which he has along with British.

Eslin is a medical worker by profession. In Ukraine, he joined the Marine Corps. He has combat experience – from 2015 to 2017, the Briton fought in Syria against ISIS as part of the People's Defense Units of the Kurdish armed groups. In the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Eslin is on the list of the 36th Marine Brigade.

In February of this year, Eslin arrived with his unit in the Donbass, defended Mariupol, and in April was taken prisoner after the Ukrainian soldiers ran out of ammunition.

The British Guardian newspaper cites the words of the Eslin family that “contrary to Kremlin propaganda, he is not a volunteer, a mercenary or a spy, but was officially enrolled in the Armed Forces of Ukraine.”

– He joined the army because he considered Ukraine his adopted home and planned his future outside the army. But like all Ukrainians, his life turned upside down after Putin's barbaric invasion, he wanted to protect Ukraine's right to self-determination, the family said, quoted by the Guardian.

Aiden Eslyn tweeted about his fight against the Russian invasion as @cossackgundi.

Andy Aslin with signs of beatings on his face. Photo: Twitter @cossackgundi

Sean Pinner

A veteran of the British Army with many years of service in the Royal Anglian Regiment, in Northern Ireland and in Bosnia (as part of the UN mission), Sean Pinner is from Bedfordshire. He first came to Ukraine in 2014 after the Revolution of Dignity and joined the Ukrainian brigade of sappers. Sean has a Ukrainian wife, they lived together in Mariupol.

Pinner is also not considered a mercenary, since in 2019 he signed a long-term contract with the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine and, like Eslin, joined the 36th Marine Brigade. According to the family, Pinner's contract with the Marines was due to end at the end of this year, and after that the Briton was going to volunteer.

His Marine unit linked up with the Azov Battalion, national guard fighters who defended the city of Mariupol from Russian invaders. He was taken prisoner in Mariupol in April and shown on state television.

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Sean Pinner is captured. Photo: Twitter @200_zoka

Brahim Saaudun

A young citizen of Morocco (he is only 21 years old) was a student at the Kyiv Polytechnic Institute, Faculty of Aerotechnical Systems, and has lived in Ukraine since 2019. Last year, he volunteered for the Marine Corps and later signed a contract with the UAF. After the start of Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine, the Moroccan went to the front in the ranks of the defenders of Mariupol.

According to a number of media reports, Saaudun Brahima's father holds a high post of military leader in his country and expresses sympathy for Russia. Allegedly because of this, Brahim quarreled with his family and does not maintain any relations with her.

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Brahim Saaudun is captured. Photo: Twitter @200_zoka

To the topic

36th Separate Marine Brigade

Was formed in 2015 on the basis of military units evacuated from Crimea. Location – the city of Nikolaev.

In April 2022, as a result of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, units of the 36th Separate Marine Brigade managed to link up with the forces of the Azov Regiment. After that, the Russian side stated that more than a thousand servicemen of the 36th Brigade of the Naval Forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine were captured. The surviving members of the brigade in Mariupol, together with the surviving formations of the Azov regiment, surrendered on May 20.

“They are not mercenaries”

Both friends and relatives of the captured foreigners declare that they are not mercenaries. Therefore, under the terms of the Geneva Convention, they should be entitled to combatant immunity as lawful soldiers registered with the recognized army of the State and to be treated properly in captivity.

British MP Robert Generick, quoted by the Guardian, said:

– This is an absolutely outrageous situation. These are not mercenaries. These are British citizens who, for personal reasons, lived in Ukraine before Vladimir Putin's invasion. They joined the Ukrainian Armed Forces, were taken prisoner, and should be treated like prisoners of war, that is, with proper care and return to Ukraine as soon as possible. Instead, they faced a show trial and are now sentenced to death. This disgusting Soviet-style show trial is the latest reminder of the perversity of the Putin regime.

Generic addressed British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss:

“This must be done so that we, as a country, clearly understand that British citizens cannot be treated so outrageously,” the MP stressed, adding that two of Her Majesty’s subjects “are essentially being used as hostages” by pro-Russian forces in the region.

It was Generic who put forward the idea of ​​a new exchange of prisoners between Russia and Ukraine mediated by the UK, noting that since such exchanges take place, Eslyn and Pinner will be the priority next time.

The judge is from the former

Since Russia views its February 24 invasion of Ukraine not as a war, but as a “special military operation,” the Russian president believes that conventional military protocols do not apply to it. However, the whole world regards the “SVO” as a war, therefore, the military personnel of the Ukrainian armed forces, even if of British or Moroccan origin, are subject to the Geneva Convention on the Treatment of Prisoners of War and must be properly supervised, and not subjected to ill-treatment, show trials or be sentenced to death.

The Sun newspaper spread information that during their imprisonment, the British were forced to contact their relatives by phone and voice some demands of the DPR militants to save them. What specific requirements are in question are not mentioned for security reasons for the soldiers.

According to Russian media reports, the British and the Moroccan have a month to appeal against the verdict handed down by the so-called “Board of the Appellate Chamber of the Supreme Court of the DPR” chaired by Alexander Nikulin, a former judge of the Donetsk Administrative Court of Appeal (until 2014). Nikulin received his legal education at the magistracy of the National Law Academy. Yaroslav the Wise in 2002.

«They are not mercenaries! » - the British sentenced to death in Donetsk were servicemen of the Armed Forces of Ukraine

British Newspaper Front Pages June 10

Tell Russia that this is not allowed!

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he was shocked by the death sentences handed down on Aiden Aslyn and Sean Pinner and instructed ministers to do “everything in their power” to secure their release. Downing Street, 10, stressed that they completely condemn the sham sentence and this sentence has no justification.

“The UK prioritizes talks about the situation with Ukraine over Russia,” added a spokesman for the prime minister, quoted by the Daily Mail. When asked if the UK would talk to Russia to secure their release, they replied: “We don’t have regular interaction with the Russians.”

In the UK, they tend to think that Russia wants to use two Britons and a Moroccan as “ hostages” to put pressure on the West during the peace talks. This is also noted by the adviser to the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine Vadim Denisenko.

Howard Morrison QC, the UK's independent adviser on war crimes in Ukraine, commented on BBC Newsnight that the sentences may have been used as a ruse to provoke a prisoner exchange.

– To be honest, I wouldn't call it a lawsuit. Judges must be fully independent and must act in accordance with the procedure and requirements of international law, national law and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, as well as the Geneva Conventions. I don't see that happening, Morrison said.

Human rights organization Amnesty International called the decision “grotesque”, saying Thursday's court appearance had all the hallmarks of a show trial.

– This so-called trial is like a staged one and is designed to put pressure on the UK… to fire a warning shot at the UK for its support of Ukraine in this brutal war… Russia and its puppets in the “Donetsk People's Republic” will add to the huge list of war crimes, if they try to carry out these sentences. The UK, the UN and other bodies must inform Moscow that these sentences are completely unacceptable and must be immediately canceled! – said Amnesty International's Crisis Management Manager.

Reported … And today (June 10), Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov refused to comment on these cases at a press conference.

“At the moment, these trials are taking place on the basis of the legislation of the Donetsk People's Republic, since these crimes were committed on the territory of the DPR. I will not comment on the judicial system of the Donetsk People's Republic,” Lavrov said.

However, no one was surprised. Russia is pushing its quasi-formations in the east of Ukraine as independent states into the world agenda, but the methods of pushing are at least surprising. Or they don’t call, because everything has been clear with Russia for a long time.

Latest news

The UK will not conduct direct negotiations with the Russian Federation on the release of two of its citizens sentenced to death from the “DPR”, but will give priority to working with the Ukrainian authorities, Prime Minister Johnson’s spokesman said, Reuters reports.

< h5 class="orange_h5_title">BY THE WAY

There are sentences – there are no executions

The first death sentence in the self-proclaimed “DPR” (by firing squad) was handed down in February 2016 to the gangster Anatoly Yakubenko, who was a member of the Cossack Union “Donskoy Region” organization and was engaged in robberies and murders of civilians in the occupied territory of the CADO. “Cossack” Yakubenko killed two young women who did not agree to give him affection on the eve of March 8. Two residents of Makeevka were shot in the head with a Stechkin automatic pistol.

Then, in July 2018, a trial took place over other members of the Cossack Union…. This group in 2014-2015 kidnapped and robbed people, engaged in extortion and murder. The “tower” was drawn to a former policeman, 26-year-old Sergei Bulgakov. Under his leadership, the “Cossacks” abducted the heads of firms and institutions, relatives of businessmen. Entrepreneurs were tortured, extorting money and valuables. Other members of the gang were sentenced to life imprisonment.

Another criminal received a death sentence for raping and killing a child. In August 2015, the small occupied Shakhtersk shuddered from this terrible crime committed by a local resident already convicted of the same.

None of the death sentences was carried out.

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