Liz Truss condemned the death sentences of two Britons as ‘a flagrant breach of the Geneva Convention’ as she held talks with her Ukrainian counterpart in a bid to secure their release.
The Foreign Secretary reaffirmed Britain’s support for Kyiv against ‘Putin’s barbaric invasion’ after speaking to Dmytro Kuleba about the case of Aiden Aslin and Shaun Pinner who were convicted by pro-Separatists Russians in what has been widely described as a show trial.
Earlier, Boris Johnson condemned the “fictitious” convictions and said he was “appalled” by the sentencing.
“We totally condemn the bogus death sentence against these men. There is no justification for this violation of the protection to which they are entitled, ”said the official spokesman for Mr Johnson.
However, No 10 declined to say whether Russia’s ambassador to the UK, Andrei Kelin, would be summoned to the Foreign Office over the matter, or if representations would be made to the Kremlin.
Ukraine’s ambassador to the UK, Vadym Prystaiko, believes the two Britons he says were targeted for UK support for Kyiv’s resistance against Vladimir Putin will be released in exchange for detained prisoners by Ukrainian forces.
Mr Prystaiko told BBC News: “It will be an exchange. The important question is what the price will be, because the Russians were talking about some Ukrainian MPs being traded for them, especially for those who I understand now have worked for them all these years.
Mr Johnson’s spokesman said No 10 did not have ‘regular interaction with the Russians’, stressing the Government’s priority was to work with his Ukrainian counterparts to ‘secure their release as soon as possible possible”.
The spokesperson added: “They have protection under the Geneva Convention as members of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, which is why we want to continue to work closely with them to try to get them released. as quickly as possible.”
The Foreign Office fears that making their case a bilateral issue between the UK and Russia could help Moscow in its rhetoric that the men are ‘mercenaries’ and therefore not entitled to protection under international law.
Britain argues that Mr Aslin, who is from Nottinghamshire, and Mr Pinner, from Bedfordshire, are members of the Ukrainian military and should therefore be treated as prisoners of war.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov declined to comment on the case, saying: “Currently they are guided by the laws of the Donetsk People’s Republic.”
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Post expires at 4:49pm on Tuesday June 21st, 2022