Boris Johnson considers handing over Russian prisoners to free captured Britons

Putin to face 'equal reaction' if Russia lashes out says expert

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Shaun Pinner and Aiden Aslin, two British fighters who have been serving in the Ukrainian marines, were captured by Russian troops last week in the south-eastern port city of Mariupol. They have both since appeared on Russian state television asking the Prime Minister for a prisoner swap which could see Kremlin ally Viktor Medvedchuk released from Ukrainian control.

Medvedchuk, occasionally dubbed as Vladimir Putin’s ‘grey cardinal’, was captured earlier this month after escaping house arrest in Ukraine soon after Russia launched its invasion.

British prisoner Pinner’s sister, Cassandra, has now suggested talks are underway over a possible prisoner swap.

She told MailOnline: “We have been made aware that Shaun is in [a] video asking for a prisoner exchange.

“A prisoner exchange is a move that is being considered, not necessarily with Viktor Medvedchuk, but it’s something being discussed.”

In a video broadcasted on Channel One Russia, Shaun Pinner appeals to Mr Johnson: “I beg on my behalf and Aiden Aslin’s behalf to help us in an exchange for Mr Medvedchuk.”

In another, Aslin, who both looks and sounds rather more pressured than Pinner, adds: “If Boris Johnson really does care like he says he does about British citizens, then he would help reassure [Volodymyr] Zelensky to do the right thing and return Viktor to his family and return us to our families.”

Britons have been officially advised not to travel to Ukraine to fight against Russian forces.

But Foreign Secretary Liz Truss confused the message early in the war by noting she would “absolutely” support Britons “joining that struggle”.

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Ms Truss announced on major broadcasting networks toward the end of February: “I do support that… That is something people can make their own decisions about.”

Asked today, April 19, about plans for a potential prisoner swap, the Government suggested it would not take action that would help Russia.

Northern Ireland Minister Brandon Lewis told Sky News: “We’re actually going through the process of sanctioning people who are close the [the] Putin regime.

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“We’re not going to be looking at how we can help Russia.”

He did not comment on the specific situations of Pinner and Aslin.

Mr Lewis did, however, add: “We always have responsibility for British citizens, which we take seriously.

“We’ve got to get the balance right in Ukraine and that’s why I say to anybody: do not travel illegally to Ukraine.”

Zelensky has already offered to swap Medvedchuk for Ukrainian troops held captive by Russian forces.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, however, that Medvedchuk was not a Russian citizen, adding it was not yet clear whether Moscow would interfere in his case.

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