WhatsNew2Day
Latest News And Breaking Headlines

‘Ukrainian artillery’ strikes Russian-backed rebel HQ in Donetsk

‘Ukrainian artillery’ hits Russian-backed rebel headquarters in Donetsk – a day after the mock court sentenced two Britons to death by firing squad

  • Explosion hit rebel headquarters in so-called Donetsk People’s Republic today
  • Rebel leaders accused Ukraine of shelling the building with French artillery
  • Comes just a day after the same government sentenced two Britons to death
  • United Nations said verdict violates international law and is a war crime

An explosion shook the headquarters of a Russian-backed rebel group in eastern Ukraine today, just a day after it sentenced two Britons to death.

Smoke rose Friday afternoon over the headquarters of the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic in occupied eastern Ukraine.

Russian-backed rebels in the area said Ukraine carried out the attack with French long-range artillery, but denied that anyone was injured.

It’s not clear why the headquarters was hit today, but it comes just hours after the region’s sham court sentenced Britons Aiden Aslin and Shaun Pinner to death for being “foreign mercenaries” after being captured during a fight in the near Mariupol.

Aslin and Pinner are, in fact, regular members of the Ukrainian Marines who have lived in the country for years and served in the military.

Smoke rises from the headquarters of the Russian-backed rebel government in the city of Donetsk, when it was hit by an explosion hours after it sentenced two Britons to death

Smoke rises from the headquarters of the Russian-backed rebel government in the city of Donetsk, when it was hit by an explosion hours after it sentenced two Britons to death

Aiden Aslin (left) and Shaun Pinner (center) were sentenced to death for being 'foreign mercenaries' in Ukraine, despite being regular members of the military

Aiden Aslin (left) and Shaun Pinner (center) were sentenced to death for being ‘foreign mercenaries’ in Ukraine, despite being regular members of the military

Under international law, they are made prisoners of war, which protects them from prosecution for taking part in the fighting.

The United Nations said today that “such trials against prisoners of war amount to a war crime.”

It comes after condemnation of Ukraine, the UK and their Western allies who have called for the pair to be taken to a POW camp and exchanged in a prisoner swap.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he was “appalled” at the sentences, while Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said the sentences were a “serious violation of the Geneva Convention”.

The “Supreme Court of the Donetsk People’s Republic,” one of two self-declared states in eastern Ukraine, ordered the death sentences for Aslin, 28, Pinner, 48, and Moroccan Saaudun Brahim after the three were accused of acting as mercenaries.

Russian news agency Interfax said on Thursday that the two British civilians surrendered in April in Mariupol, a port city in southern Ukraine that had been taken by Russian forces after a weeks-long siege.

Aiden Aslin (right) and Shaun Pinner (left) were arrested in April during the siege of Mariupol while fighting in Ukraine, before appearing in court in the separatist region of the Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) and handing down death sentences after a show trial

Aiden Aslin (right) and Shaun Pinner (left) were arrested in April during the siege of Mariupol while fighting in Ukraine, before appearing in court in the separatist region of the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) and handing down death sentences after a show trial

Aiden Aslin

Born: 1994, Newark-on-Trent

Worked as: Caregiver

combat experience: Traveled to Syria in 2015 to fight for the Kurds in a western-backed alliance against ISIS.

He made headlines on his return to the UK in 2016 when he was arrested, charged with terrorism offenses and then held on bail until all charges were dropped following protests.

Aslin then returned to Syria in 2017 to assist in the fight to retake the city of Raqqa, the de facto capital of the terror state of ISIS.

Travel to Ukraine: After being arrested a second time in the UK while trying to return from Syria via Greece, Aslin moved to Ukraine after falling in love with a woman from the city of Mykolaiv.

After hearing from Ukrainian volunteers in Syria about Ukraine’s fight against Russia in Donbas, he was persuaded to join the military and enlisted as a Marine in 2018.

Aslin completed three forays along the front line and was dug into trenches in the Donbas in late February when Putin’s troops crossed the border in a second invasion.

He eventually fell back to the nearby town of Mariupol, where he fought under siege for weeks before being captured in April after his unit ran out of ammunition.

Shaun Pinner

Born: 1974, Bedfordshire

Worked as: A veteran of the British Army, who served in the Royal Anglian regiment for many years.

combat experience: Fought ‘many’ tours, including in Northern Ireland, according to his family, who said he had also served on UN missions in Bosnia.

Travel to Ukraine: Pinner moved to Ukraine in 2018, where he made his “adopted home” and decided to dedicate his military training to fighting Russian-backed rebels in the country’s eastern Donbas.

He became engaged to a Ukrainian woman and worked his way into the Marines, where he had served for the past two years.

Pinner’s three-year contract with the Marines expired at the end of this year, his family said, when he wanted to become a humanitarian in the country.

Pinner helped defend the front lines in Donbas when Putin’s invasion began on February 24.

His unit of Marines eventually ended up with the Azov Battalion – members of the National Guard with ties to neo-Nazis – defending the city of Mariupol from the Russians.

He was captured in Mariupol in April and paraded on state television.

“The Prime Minister was shocked by the sentencing of these men,” Johnson’s spokesman told reporters.

“Obviously we support Ukraine in its efforts to get these men released. It is clear that they were members of the Ukrainian armed forces and are therefore prisoners of war,” he said.

Both Britons have lived in Ukraine since 2018 and signed up to fight when Russia invaded, according to British media. Pinner is married to a Ukrainian woman and Aslin is engaged to a local.

“They are not mercenaries and never have been,” Aslin’s family said in a statement.

“We hope this verdict is overturned and we ask the governments of the United Kingdom and Ukraine to do everything in their power to get them back to us safely and quickly.”

In April, the two Britons were featured on Russian state television, demanding that Johnson negotiate their release. Pinner’s Conservative MP Robert Jenrick demanded that the Russian ambassador be summoned to London.

But the government is reluctant to engage bilaterally with Moscow, fearing it would bolster claims that the captured fighters were mercenaries.

In a three-day trial, the men pleaded guilty to committing “actions aimed at seizing power and overthrowing the constitutional order of the Donetsk People’s Republic,” Interfax said.

58909071 10904527 image a 35 1654873397114

A Ukrainian soldier stands in a position during heavy fighting on the front line in Severodonetsk

A Ukrainian soldier stands in a position during heavy fighting on the front line in Severodonetsk

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More