Russia: Two British soldiers sentenced to death after capture
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The new report is painting a bleak picture of the conflict on the frontline for Ukrainian forces. The report by Western and Ukrainian intelligence officials further revealed Ukraine troops are facing extreme difficulties responding to Russian shelling with their artillery restricted to a range of 25 kilometres. Russian forces are able to strike from 12 times that distance.
There is now a concern over desertion for the first time since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24.
The report also said up to 100 soldiers were being killed a day, as the situation in the Donbas worsens.
It is said to be having “a seriously demoralising effect on Ukrainian forces as well as a very real material effect; cases of desertion are growing every week”.
Russia are currently capturing territory in the east, and have already seized the cities of Mariupol and Kherson.
The bargaining position of the Ukrainian government is being weakened, with a big difference in the number of prisoners held by each side.
There are currently 550 Russian soldiers being held in Ukraine, a stark difference to the 900 in April following a series of exchanges.
In comparison, Moscow has more than 5,600 Ukrainian troops captured, with 2,500 surrendering.
These numbers have been revealed through the highly publicised trials of prisoners of war in both Russia and Ukraine.
Ukrainian courts in Kyiv have been convicting Russian soldiers on war crime, with the penalty being lengthy sentences.
Iryna Venediktova, the country’s prosecutor general, said on Wednesday she has filed eight more cases.
Two Britons, Aiden Aslin and Shaun Pinner, who were captured serving with Ukrainian forces in Mariupol are on trial in the separatist Donetsk People’s Republic, where prosecutors say they face the death penalty for “terrorism” and being “mercenaries”.
The two British men, who were detained in April in the battle for Mariupol, were charged with being foreign mercenaries, trying to seize power and terrorist offences.
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They had both been in the country since 2018 and insist they were legitimately serving with Ukraine’s military – so should be protected as prisoners of war by the Geneva Convention.
The UK has made clear they are prisoners of war entitled to immunity and should not face prosecution for taking part in hostilities.
Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab said on Monday the British Government expected “the laws of armed conflict to be represented” and the Foreign Office would make “all the representations”.
The intelligence report says: “Russians insist on a one-to-one prisoner exchange. This means that under the status quo, 4,500 Ukrainian prisoners may be in Russian jails until there is a peace deal. Moscow is likely to use this as a lever to internally destabilise Ukraine unless there is social protection for their families and clear communications.
“We are, of course, very grateful to our allies for their support,” said one Ukrainian official. “The new weapons are welcome, but when they announce they are sending military aid to Ukraine, the Western government should perhaps clarify to their public the quantities involved.”
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