BACHMUT – Ukraine and the West condemned a pro-Moscow court that sentenced two British nationals and a Moroccan to death for fighting for Ukraine, calling the trial a sham and a violation of the rules of war.
As Kremlin forces continue a grueling war of attrition in the east, Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday appeared to compare his actions to those of Peter the Great in the 18th century, saying the country must “reclaim” historic Russian lands. .
A court in Ukraine’s self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic found the three militants guilty of plotting to seize power, an offense punishable by death in the unrecognized eastern republic. The men were also convicted of mercenary activities and terrorism.
Russian state news agency RIA Novosti reported that the defendants – identified as Aiden Aslin, Shaun Pinner and Brahim Saadoun – face a firing squad. You have one month to appeal.
The Separatist side argued that the three were “mercenaries” who were not entitled to the usual protection of prisoners of war. They are the first foreign fighters convicted by the Russian-backed rebels in Ukraine.
Ukrainian Foreign Ministry spokesman Oleh Nikolenko condemned the trial as illegal, saying: “Such show trials put the interests of propaganda above law and morality.” Military personnel should be recognized and protected as such.
British Foreign Secretary Luz Truss described the verdict as “a bogus verdict without any legitimacy”. Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s spokesman, Jamie Davies, said that under the Geneva Conventions, prisoners of war are entitled to immunity as combatants.
Saadoun’s father, Taher Saadoun, told Moroccan Arabic-language online newspaper Madar 21 that his son is not a mercenary and has Ukrainian citizenship.
Aslin and Pinner’s families have said the two men were longtime members of the Ukrainian military. Both are said to have lived in Ukraine since 2018.
The three men fought alongside Ukrainian troops before Pinner and Aslin surrendered to pro-Russian forces in the southern port of Mariupol in mid-April and Saadoun was captured in the eastern town of Volnovakha in mid-March.
Another British fighter captured by pro-Russian forces, Andrew Hill, is awaiting trial.
The Russian military has argued that foreign mercenaries fighting on Ukraine’s side are not combatants and, at best, face lengthy prison terms if captured.
Putin drew parallels between the founding of St. Petersburg by Peter the Great and the ambitions of modern Russia.
When the tsar founded the new capital, “no European country recognized it as Russia. Everyone recognized it as Sweden,” Putin said. He added: “What has (Peter) done? take back and strengthen. He did. And it looks like it fell on us to take it back and step it up, too.”
Putin also appeared to be leaving the door open to further Russian territorial expansion.
“It’s impossible – do you understand? – impossible to build a fence around a country like Russia. And we do not intend to build this fence,” the Russian leader said.
In other developments, French President Emmanuel Macron told Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy that France was ready to send more “heavy weapons” to Ukraine, according to Macron’s office. French officials did not elaborate on the weapons. The call came after Macron angered Ukrainian officials by saying world powers shouldn’t “humiliate” Putin.
Zelenskyi said the Ukrainian army continues to push back Russian forces from Kharkiv, the country’s second-largest city, which lies north of the Donbass. Ukrainian TV broadcasts were restored after a TV tower was shelled.
“Attacking television centers, destroying communication channels, leaving people isolated – these are the tactics of the occupiers, which they cannot do without, because openness and honesty are also weapons against everything the Russian state does,” he said late Thursday in his evening address .
On the battlefield:
— Bitter fighting continued in the city of Sieverodonetsk in a battle that could help decide the fate of Donbass, Ukraine’s industrial heartland to the east. Moscow-backed separatists held parts of the Donbass before the invasion, and Russian troops have gained more.
– Kharkiv residents reported what appeared to be cruise missile attacks on the northeastern city. One hit a supermarket. Another hit a coking plant. No details were available.
– Russian troops are attempting to resume their offensive in a bid to fully seize the Zaporizhia region of south-eastern Ukraine, Ukrainian authorities said. Kyiv continues to hold the northern part of the region, including the city of Zaporizhia.
– Thirteen civilians were killed in Ukrainian shelling of the separatist-controlled town of Stakhanov in the Donbass, a pro-Russian separatist envoy said on social media. It was not immediately possible to verify the claim.
– Russia claimed it used missiles to attack a base west of the capital in the Zhytomyr region, where mercenaries are said to be trained. There was no response from the Ukrainian authorities.
Karmanau reported from Lemberg, Ukraine.
Follow AP’s coverage of the war in Ukraine at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine
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https://www.local10.com/news/world/2022/06/10/west-denounces-death-sentences-for-3-who-fought-for-ukraine/ West denounces death sentences for 3 people who fought for Ukraine