Who are the foreigners sentenced to death by Russian proxies?

10 June, 02:19 PM
Aiden Aslin, Sean Pinner and Brahim Saadun in the courtroom in occupied Donetsk, June 7, 2022 (Photo:Supreme Court of Donetsk People’s Republic/Handout via REUTERS TV)

Aiden Aslin, Sean Pinner and Brahim Saadun in the courtroom in occupied Donetsk, June 7, 2022 (Photo:Supreme Court of Donetsk People’s Republic/Handout via REUTERS TV)

Two UK nationals, Aiden Aslin and Shaun Pinner, along with Moroccan citizen Saadun Brahim, were sentenced to death onJune 9 by a sham court in the Russian-controlled part of Ukraine’s Donetsk Oblast. 

Despite them serving in Ukraine’s armed forces, Moscow’s puppet statelets declared them “mercenaries.” Ukraine and the UK insist they are PoWs, and the whole “court process” is a sham.

NV has uncovered the stories of these three soldiers, who were captured in the spring of 2022, and who have been reportedly tortured and placed under psychological duress.

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Aiden Aslin, 28

The best-known of trio of prisoners, the UK media wrote about Aslin in 2016, when the native of Newark, Nottinghamshire, returned home after fighting in the Syrian Civil War. He spent 10 months with the Kurdish People’s Defense Units (YPG) in northern Syria, fighting ISIS and Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad’s troops.

UK authorities arrested Aslin: While the YPG is not designated as a terrorist organization, the UK has banned Kurdistan’s Worker’s Party, which is connected with the YPG.

Aslin was released on bail. In Spring 2016, a protest gathered in Nottingham, demanding an end the prosecution of Aslin, who fought Islamic extremists.

Aslin was not charged, and after getting his passport back, he left the UK.

During his travels, he met a Ukrainian English teacher from Mykolaiv, and moved there. In 2018, he signed a contract to serve Ukraine’s 36th Marine Brigade.

The Russian invasion derailed the plans to hold the wedding in Spring of 2022. Aslin’s bride left for Hungary, while his brigade was dispatched to defend Mariupol.

Aslin used his social media accounts – under the monikers John Wood and cossackgundi – to report on the difficult situation in the city. Nevertheless, he never second-guessed his choice to serve Ukraine.

“First of all, we’re not mercenaries. We’re being paid and treated the same way any Ukrainian is,” he wrote on Instagram.

“I’ve taken up the responsibility to defend Ukraine and its citizens. Second, we’re not war tourists, as some claim. I’ve met plenty of those, and they don’t stay long. I’m in service for over three years; I was one of the first British paratroopers in Ukraine’s marines; I proudly wear my beret as one of the few foreign nationals here.”

After going dark for a while, on April 12 the following message appeared on @coaasckgundi’s Twitter:

“It’s been 48 days, we’ve done everything to defend Mariupol, but we are now left with no choice but to surrender to the Russians. We’re out of ammo and food. It’s been an honor, I hope the war ends soon.”

Shaun Pinner, 48

Hailing from Bedfordshire in England, Pinner served in Royal Marines and took part in various UN peacekeeping missions.

After nine years of service with a spotless record, he went to work for a waste management company. In an interview with Sky News in January 2022, Pinner said that his work was taking up to 16 hours a day, and he felt he “had to change something in my life.”

After learning that foreigners can serve in the Ukrainian army with a prospect of citizenship or residency permit, he moved to Ukraine. Being an experienced soldier, Pinner was made a squad commander during his first tour. He learned Russian and married a Ukrainian woman. Their house in Mariupol was only 15 kilometers away from territories claimed by Russian proxies in Donetsk region.

“I’m a resident of Mariupol, I’m essentially defending the city that took me in, and my family,” said Pinner.

He was planning to retire from service when his contract expired in December 2022, but was going to remain in Ukraine.

On April 15, Pinner was captured by Russian troops near one of the industrial plants in the city.

Brahim Saadoun, 21

Little is known about Moroccan citizen Saadoun.

Russian propagandist Alexander Sladkov claimed that Saadoun’s father is a “high-ranking Moroccan military official.” Other sources suggest that the young man hails from a poor family, and arrived to study at the Kyiv Polytechnic with little more that $100 to his name.

According to online media outlet Atalyar, Saadoun indeed studied at the Kyiv Polytechnic, before signing up with Ukrainian armed forces and leaving for Donbas.

AfrigateNews reported he served as an interpreter, given that he speaks four languages. In an interview with a Russian TV channel, Saadoun said he never killed anyone and maintained that he’s innocent.

Saadoun was captured near Volnovakha. His parents have allegedly pleaded with Russian dictator Vladimir Putin to release him.

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