British fighter is paraded in handcuffs after being captured by Russians in Mariupol | Daily Mail Online
The family of a British fighter captured in Ukraine have told of their horror at seeing him, bruised and battered – and paraded in handcuffs on Russian TV.
Aiden Aslin, 28, appeared exhausted as he was marched out on Kremlin state TV with a big red mark on his forehead and a swollen eye – days after his unit surrendered to Russian forces in Mariupol.
Back home in Nottingham, moments after seeing the disturbing pictures, Aiden’s brother Nathan Wood, 25, told MailOnline: ‘It is so shocking for our family to see Aiden in that state. What have the Russians done to him? He looks awful, absolutely exhausted. His face is drained of colour.
‘How has he got such a big red mark on his forehead? That looks like he’s been hit with a rifle butt.
‘But however horrible it is to see him in such a state, it does show that he is still alive and that is giving us as a family some slight relief.
‘I would appeal again to the Russians to treat him well and humanely.
‘I would also appeal to the Foreign Office to do all they can to ensure that my brother is kept safe. Each day that he’s in Russian hands is a worry for us. The longer it goes on, the worse it’ll be for him.
‘There is no doubt now that he has been captured. I had hoped talk of his unit surrendering was just a smokescreen but the images now clearly show he’s in Russian captivity.
‘He looks to be in an office somewhere. I don’t know when and where exactly he surrendered but he could be being held at a marine base in Crimea.
‘I’ve not spoken to him since a few days ago when he called early in the morning to say he was laying down arms due to a lack of food and ammunition.
‘We’ve had no more contact and now it’s a race against time really to get him back in Ukraine or Britain.’
Aslin, known by his social media alias Cossack Gundi, moved to Ukraine in 2018 after falling in love with a woman from Mykolaiv and joined the nation’s armed forces.
For weeks he had been fighting Russian forces in Mariupol as a fully paid member of Ukraine’s army, but surrendered to the invaders two days ago after his team ran out of supplies and ammunition following 48 days of conflict in and around the besieged port city.
After seeing the pictures of Aslin in Russian captivity, Aiden’s mother said today: ‘It’s Aiden I can’t deny it. It’s him.
‘They are his tattoos. There is a faint hope it is a doctored image but I can’t see it. I now hold Vladimir Putin to the terms of the Geneva Convention.
‘Aiden is a serving member of the Ukrainian armed forces and as such is a prisoner of war and must be treated with humanity.
‘It already looks like he has been beaten up. It is time now for the British Government to get involved. and help secure Aiden’s release because he is still a British citizen.
‘Possibly there is hope for a prisoner swap arranged by the Ukrainians. I’m in bits. My son will be scared just as we are.’
A plug for the Russian state TV broadcast in which the Briton was forcibly interviewed called Aiden ‘an English mercenary who fought on the side of the ”Nazis” in Mariupol’.
It went on: ‘Many lost him, but we found him. An interesting interview is coming soon.’
The interview was promoted by prominent Russian state television correspondent Andrey Rudenko, who posted the first image of the British national after his capture.
The image, shared by Aiden’s official social media account to raise awareness, showed his tattooed arms shackled in handcuffs with facial bruising and a laceration across his forehead.
A second image, posted by a pro-Russian Telegram account from the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, showed a close up of the cut as Aiden sat in custody.
Russia’s Channel 1 said Aiden ‘previously fought on the side of radical Islamists in Syria’ and another state TV outlet Rossiya 1 said he was ‘suspected of fighting for terrorists’.
Rossiya 1 continued: ‘In London, after the odious Briton Aiden Aslin surrendered, they suddenly remembered the Geneva Convention and asked for him to be treated gently.’
Meanwhile, NTV – owned by Gazprom Media – said the British media ‘suddenly changed its tone after six weeks of enjoying, gloating, embellishing, and exaggerating reports of our army’s soldiers being wounded and killed.’
The NTV report said Aiden had been ‘befriended by a neo-Nazi’, in reference to his 2018 relocation to Ukraine to be with his Ukrainian fiancee.
Members of Aiden’s family told the MailOnline on Tuesday after receiving news of his capture that they were hoping for a prisoner transfer.
Meanwhile, Robert Jenrick, the MP for Aiden’s hometown of Newark in Nottinghamshire, tweeted yesterday: ‘I am working with [the foreign office] to track the whereabouts and secure the release of my constituent.
‘Aiden chose to risk his life because he believes passionately in the Ukrainian people’s right to live in freedom and democracy.’
Aiden’s social media account, which is being operated by his contacts while he has been fighting on the frontlines, tweeted the picture of the British national and promised to keep his plight ‘in the public eye’.
‘Just got this, it looks as if they have gotten ahold of Aiden,’ the tweet read.
‘F***ing pukes have worked him over too by the looks of it. We’re going to keep in the public eye every day until he’s exchanged.’
The same account posted a message earlier this week notifying Aiden’s followers of his surrender.
‘It’s been 48 days, we tried our best to defend Mariupol but we have no choice but to surrender to Russian forces.
‘We have no food and no ammunition. It’s been a pleasure everyone, I hope this war ends soon.’
The post added: ‘We’re putting this out after direct consultation with his family. Until we’re told otherwise we’ll continue working on sharing the facts of the war. Hope for a prisoner exchange.’
Moving to Ukraine in 2018, Aslin had been due to get married last week to his Ukrainian fiancee.
But as his unit, the 36th Marine Brigade, became surrounded by Russian forces bombarding the city of Mariupol, his communication with the outside world became increasingly sporadic.