Russia angers international community after Ukrainian soldiers are sentenced to death

Russian-backed separatists in the Donbass on Thursday announced death sentences for two British citizens and a Moroccan national captured while fighting for Ukraine, sparking a storm of international criticism for the ‘show trials’ .

The separatist Donetsk People’s Republic, which only enjoys recognition from Moscow, sentenced the trio to death by firing squad after a three-day trial, according to Politico. They have one month to appeal the reduced sentence.

Britain’s Aiden Aslin and Sean Pinner were captured in April during the Russian capture of Mariupol while Morocco’s Saadoun Brahim was captured in March at Volnovakha. The Russians accused them of “terrorist” activities, according to the outlet.

The convictions drew a slew of condemnations from Western officials and human rights experts. UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss on Twitter sentenced the decision, insisting that the British were legitimate prisoners of war.

“The Russians have an obligation to grant prisoner of war status to all persons who are in their custody or in the custody of their proxies,” Vanderbilt University professor Michael Newton said, according to Politico. “There is no legal basis for the lawsuit.”

The Donetsk People’s Republic is an unrecognized breakaway state that is not a signatory to the Geneva Convention. Critics, however, note that the regime is a de facto Russian vassal and therefore Moscow is responsible for its actions during the conflict.

University of Washington international criminal law professor Leila Sadat told the newspaper that international courts “use a standard we call global control, so if you can show that Russia was funding and/or organizing one way or another, then it is directly attributable to Russia”.

The three death sentences come as Russia announces that Moscow would open 1,100 cases against its prisoners of war out of the 6,489 currently in custody, according to The New York Times.

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Post expires at 8:01am on Tuesday June 21st, 2022