Liz Truss stated that five British nationals who were held in Ukraine by Russian-backed separatists have been released and are now being safely returned to their families.
Prime Minister tweeted: “Hugely welcomed news that five British nationals detained by Russian-backed proxy forces in eastern Ukraine are being safely back, ending months and uncertainty and suffering for their families.
She thanked Volodymyr Zelenskyy Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zilenskyy and “Saudi Arabia” for their help.
She added that Russia must stop exploiting prisoners of war and civilians detained for political ends.
Robert Jenrick, Health Minister, said that Aiden Aslin was one of the people who were freed.
He was captured by Russian forces in April as one of two British men and charged with being a mercenary .
They were brought before a court in Donetsk People’s Republic (a separatist region in Ukraine’s east).
The government has yet to confirm the identities of all those who were released.
Tweet by Mr Jenrick: “I am pleased that my constituent, Aiden Aslin and other British prisoners-of-war held captives by the Russian authorities were finally released and are now on their way to the UK.”
“Aiden’s Return brings an end to months of agonising uncertainty and pain for Aiden’s loved family in Newark. They suffered through every day of Aiden’s sham trial, but never lost their hope.” They can finally feel at peace once they have reunited as a family.
Sky News later reported that it was an “absolutely terrifying experience” for Aslin.
He was first captured and then put on trial in a bogus soviet-era-type trial. He was sentenced to death via firing squad. He was then physically and mentally abused by his captors, and used by Russia and its puppets for propaganda purposes.”
He said: It was a very sorry episode that speaks volumes about his (President Vladimir Putin) disregard for international laws and human life. These were legitimate prisoners-of-war who should have been treated with respect.
“We are so happy, he is on the way home.”
US citizens also eligible for
Although the Foreign Office was working for several months to assist those held, it is believed that Mohammed bin Salman, Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, assisted in their release.
Jenrick stated that he believed the Crown prince was asked because Saudi Arabia was an ally and partner to the UK, as well as because it is a country through its participation in OPEC (group oil-producing countries), which has an ongoing relationship.
After three months of captivity, two US military veterans who were fighting Russia with Ukrainian forces disappeared have been freed.
Alex Drueke (39), and Andy Huynh (27), both from Alabama, were killed in heavy fighting near the Russian border.
Months in Suffering
The news of all releases was welcomed by James Cleverly, UK Foreign Secretary.
He said, “This brings an end to many months of uncertainty, suffering, and even the threat of death penalty for them and their family, at Russia’s hands.”
He also spoke of Paul Urey (a British volunteer for humanitarian aid) who died in the same circumstances earlier this year and said that “our thoughts remain with his family.”