Ukraine: Russian-backed forces free five captive Britons, says Truss

Ukraine: Russian-backed forces free five captive Britons, says Truss

Five British nationals captured in Ukraine and held by Russian-backed forces are being returned to their families, Prime Minister Liz Truss has revealed.

“Very welcome news that five British nationals held by Russian-backed representatives in eastern Ukraine are being safely returned, ending months of uncertainty and suffering for them and their families,” she tweeted.

Aiden Aslin, a British fighter who was sentenced to death by a pro-Russian court, is among those released, his MP Robert Jenrick said.

He tweeted: “Aiden’s return ends months of agonizing uncertainty for Aiden’s loving family in Newark, who suffered every day from Aiden’s false trial but never lost hope. As they are united as a family once again, they can finally be at peace.”

The Saudi Foreign Ministry said Russia had released 10 foreign prisoners of war after mediation by the country’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

The list includes American, British, Croatian, Moroccan and Swedish citizens, the ministry said, and that a plane carrying the prisoners had landed in the kingdom.

“The relevant Saudi authorities received and transferred them from Russia to the kingdom and are facilitating the procedures for their respective countries,” the statement said.

The ministry did not identify the detainees. A Saudi official said five were British, two American, one Croatian, one Moroccan and one Swede.

It remains to be seen whether the five include Shaun Pinner, who was also sentenced to death by a court in Donetsk, one of Russia’s representatives in eastern Ukraine.

Prince Mohammed has maintained close ties with Russian Vladimir Putin, including within the OPEC+ group of oil producers, despite strong pressure from Washington, a traditional ally of Riyadh, to isolate Russia.

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Truss thanked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky “for his efforts to secure the release of detainees and Saudi Arabia for its assistance.”

“Russia must end the relentless exploitation of prisoners of war and civilian detainees for political purposes,” he added.

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