Two British prisoners of war have appeared on Russian TV to beg UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson to arrange a prisoner swap with the key Ukrainian ally of Vladimir Putin who is being held for treason.
Shaun Pinner and Aiden Aslin—both UK nationals captured While fighting for Ukraine’s marines — appeared separately to appeal for the exchange with pro-Russian politician Viktor Medvedchuk, who was also filmed by Ukrainians making a similar appeal to his pal Putin on Monday.
It was unclear how freely the detained Britons were able to speak when quizzed on Rossiya 24 state TV channel.
“If Boris Johnson really does care like he says he does about British citizens, then he would help pressure [Ukraine President Volodymyr] Zelensky to do the right thing and return Viktor to his family and return us to our families,” said Aslin, 28, from Nottinghamshire.
He and Pinner were both shown a video of Medvedchuk’s TV host wifeOksana Marchenko, pleading for her husband’s safe return.
“I understand the situation,” said Pinner, 48, looking tired and nervous.
“We look to exchange myself and Aiden Aslin for Mr. Medvedchuk,” he said of the leader of Ukraine’s pro-Russian Opposition Platform For Life party, who is accused of fleeing house arrest days after Russia invaded.
“I’d like to appeal to the [British] government to send me back home, I’d like to see my wife again,” said Pinner, a British Army veteran from Bedfordshire.
At a similar time, Ukraine’s security services released his own video of Medvedchuk begging his pal Putin — the godfather of one of his kids — to also arrange a swap.
Looking directly into the camera, the oligarch asked Putin and Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky to “exchange me for Ukrainian defenders and residents of Mariupol,” the besieged port city where both Brits were captured.
Medvedchuk — listed by Forbes last year as Ukraine’s 12th-richest person, worth $620 million — had been under house arrest since last May, charged with “high treason.”
The US in January also accused Medvedchuk of involvement in efforts by Russian intelligence services to prepare friendly Ukrainian politicians to take control of the country with the backing of occupying forces.
According to Ukrainian police, he fled house arrest a few days after Putin invaded Ukraine at the end of February.
In her appeals, Marchenko — a former TV star who hosted “X-Factor Ukraine” — said she was convinced her husband had been beaten and “persecuted for political reasons.”
Russia has said it will keep a close eye on Medvedchuk’s fate and last week told Ukraine “to watch out” after Kyiv captured him and released photographs of him in handcuffs.
The British Foreign Office had no immediate comment on the footage Monday, but released a statement from Pinner’s family.
“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,” the statement said.
An Instagram page set up by Aslin’s friends, meanwhile, said, “The only good thing about these propaganda videos is that they show our boys reacting to relatively recent events, so it’s a fair proof of life.”
With Post wires