Five Britons captured by Russian-backed forces are brought back safely

One of those released is Aiden Aslin.

One of the people released is Aiden Aslin (Image: Reuters)

Ten prisoners of war including five British nationals, have returned home safely captured by Russian-backed forces in Ukraine.

Aiden Aslin, who was sentenced to death by a court in the self-proclaimed Dontesk People’s Republic, is among the group, his MP said.

However, the identities of the former prisoners have yet to be officially confirmed by the UK government.

Two American prisoners named Alexander Drueke and Andy Huynh were released, family officials confirmed.

The group also includes Croatian, Moroccan and Swedish nationals, as it became known on Wednesday evening.

It is not known whether Shaun Pinner, who was sentenced to death with Mr Aslin, will also return to the UK.

The move comes after mediation by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Prime Minister Liz Truss announced the news tonight and said it ended “months of uncertainty and suffering for her and her families”.

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She thanked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy “for his efforts to free prisoners and Saudi Arabia for his support”.

The British leader also warned that Russia must “end the ruthless exploitation of prisoners of war and civilian detainees for political ends”.

Mr Aslin, originally from Newark in Nottinghamshire, moved to Ukraine in 2018 after falling in love with a woman from Mykolaiv.

He was drafted into the Ukrainian army and had been fighting in Mariupol when his military unit ran out of food and ammunition.

They had “no choice” but to surrender to Kremlin troops earlier this year.

He and Mr Pinner were sentenced to death in July by an unrecognized international court for “mercenary activity” and “training to carry out terrorist activities”.

Mr Aslin’s heartbroken family have described him as a “man well loved and greatly missed”.

Newham MP Robert Jenrick tweeted this evening: “Aiden’s return ends months of agonizing uncertainty for Aiden’s loving family in Newark who suffered every day at Aiden’s sham trial but never lost hope.

“Being reunited as a family, they can finally find peace.”

Secretary of State James Cleverly said the release “puts an end to many months of uncertainty and suffering, including the threat of the death penalty, for them and their families by Russia”.

He added, “Tragically, that was not the case for one of those detained and our thoughts remain with Paul Urey’s family.”

The British aid worker died earlier this year while being detained by Russian-backed separatists in Ukraine.

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Justin Scacco

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