Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said today that the two Britons and a Moroccan who were sentenced to death by a “court” of the self-proclaimed “Donetsk People’s Republic” on Thursday had committed crimes there.
“At the moment, the trials you are referring to are being conducted under the law of the Donetsk People’s Republic, because these crimes were committed on its territory,” Lavrov said.
Among the UN member states, only Russia recognizes the Donetsk province of Ukraine as an independent state.
The two Britons, Eden Aslin and Sean Piner, as well as Moroccan Saadoun Brahim, were found guilty of “mercenary activities and committing acts aimed at seizing power and overthrowing the constitutional order” in the self-proclaimed Democratic Republic of the United States.
Kyiv stressed yesterday that this court has no jurisdiction, as well as that the three fighters were members of the Ukrainian army and are therefore protected by the Geneva Convention.
The two Britons, aged 28 and 48, surrendered to the Russian army after weeks of fighting in Mariupol. According to press reports, they lived in Ukraine before the war and were married there.
The three were tried after a Ukrainian court last month sentenced a Russian soldier to life in prison for killing an unarmed civilian.
Meanwhile, a senior Ukrainian official said today that Moscow wanted to use the three foreigners as “hostages” to put pressure on the West to negotiate peace.
Vadim Denishenko, an adviser to the Interior Ministry, said today that Ukraine would coordinate its actions with Britain, the US and the EU.
He also accused Moscow of “using them as hostages to put pressure on the international community to negotiate.”
For his part, the governor of Luhansk province, Sergie Haidai, told BBC Radio 4 that the two Britons sentenced to death were regular soldiers.
“All the people who come to fight on the Ukrainian side sign documents with the Ukrainian army and thus gain official status,” he said. This means that they are protected by the Geneva Convention and cannot be sentenced to death, even if they are not Ukrainian citizens.
“As far as I know, the lawyers have already appealed against the decision and I believe that what is happening is just political pressure from Russia,” he said.
I am Derek Black, an author of World Stock Market. I have a degree in creative writing and journalism from the University of Central Florida. I have a passion for writing and informing the public. I strive to be accurate and fair in my reporting, and to provide a voice for those who may not otherwise be heard.