Russia parades captured British fighters Shaun Pinner and Aiden Aslin on state TV in bid for prisoner exchange

Two British fighters captured in Ukraine by Russian forces have been shown on Kremlin state TV appearing to ask Boris Johnson to secure their release, in exchange for an ally of Vladimir Putin.

Shaun Pinner, 48, and Aiden Aslin, 28, were shown on Russian state television apparently asking to be released in a prisoner swap for pro-Kremlin politician Viktor Medvedchuk, who was captured by Ukrainian forces earlier this month after violating house arrest on treason charges .

It is unclear whether the men, who are seen speaking to an unidentified man asking them questions, had been coerced to film the message.

A video released around the same time on Monday by Ukraine’s SBU intelligence service showed Medvedchuk asking to be swapped too.

The two Britons were taken prisoner in the besieged city of Mariupol, where they had been fighting alongside Ukrainian marines.

Captured British fighter Shaun Pinner was seen on Russian television calling for him and fellow Briton Aiden Aslin to be exchanged for a pro-Russian politician

Mr Pinner, a former British Army soldier, appears to say in the clip: “I’d like to appeal to the government to send me back home, I’d like to see my wife again.

“We look to exchange myself and Aiden Aslin for Mr Medvedchuk.

“Obviously I would really appreciate your help in this matter. Myself, I have been treated well. I fully understand the situation I am in. We have been, fed, watered. That’s all I can say.

“I beg on my behalf and on behalf of Aiden Aslin to help us in exchange for Mr Medvedchuk.”

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The two Britons were also shown a video of Medvedchuk’s wife appealing over the weekend for her husband to be swapped for the two British nationals.

Mr Aslin said: “I think Boris needs to listen to what Oksana (Medvedchuk’s wife) has said. If Boris Johnson really does care about British citizens like he says he does then he will help. ”

The men’s families have appealed for them to be released and for their rights as prisoners of war to be respected.

Mr Pinner’s family said he had been a “well-respected soldier within the British Army” who had served tours in Northern Ireland and with the UN in Bosnia, before joining the Ukrainian marines after moving to the country in 2018.

In a statement, they said: “Our family is currently working with the Foreign Office along with the family of Aiden Aslin who is also being held by the Russian Army to ensure their rights as Prisoners Of War are upheld according to the Geneva Convention.

Aiden Aslin, seen here in a video released on Russian state television last week, has also appealed to Boris Johnson to help secure his and Mr Pinner’s release

“Shaun is a funny, much loved well-intentioned husband, son, father, brother and friend to many. We are hoping for a quick resolution to allow Shaun and Aiden to return safely to their families and we ask for privacy at this difficult time. Our hearts go out to all those caught up in this horrific conflict. ”

Former care worker Mr Aslin, from Newark, Nottinghamshire, had joined the Ukrainian marines in 2018 and was engaged to marry a Ukrainian after making his home in the country.

His mother Ang Wood told The Telegraph: “Aiden is a serving member of the Ukrainian armed forces and as such is a prisoner of war and must be treated with humanity.”

She said she is concerned for her son’s safety if he is treated as a “mercenary” rather than a prisoner of war.

Medvedchuk, a member of Ukraine’s parliament whose estimated net worth last year was £ 477m ($ 620m), was the former leader of the pro-Russian party Opposition Platform – For Life, and President Putin is the godfather to one of his children.

The oligarch was sanctioned by the US for pro-Russian interference following the 2014 annexation of Crimea.

He was arrested last year in Ukraine on treason charges, including sharing military secrets with Moscow.

Medvedchuk was being held under house arrest before the war began and disappeared shortly after hostilities broke out – meaning he was technically recaptured as an escaped convict, and not a prisoner of war.

Until now, the Kremlin has officially denied it would make efforts to free him.

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