Kyiv condemns British fighters’ death sentence as legally invalid

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Aiden Aslin (pictured in a cell) and Shaun Pinner were captured in Mariupol in April, after both had spent several years serving in the Ukrainian army - Reuters

Aiden Aslin (pictured in a cell) and Shaun Pinner were captured in Mariupol in April, after both had spent several years serving in the Ukrainian army – Reuters

The death sentences handed down from a pro-Russian court to British nationals fighting for Ukraine should be considered null and void, a Ukrainian foreign ministry spokesman has said.

Aiden Aslin, 28, and Shaun Pinner, 48, were found guilty of “mercenary activities” by a court in eastern Ukraine’s separatist regions.

“The so-called ‘trial’ of the military personnel of the Armed Forces of Ukraine in the occupied Ukrainian territories is of no significance,” Oleh Nikolenko told the Interfax Ukraine agency.

“Such show trials put the interests of propaganda above the law and morality; they undermine the mechanisms for the return of prisoners of war.

“The Ukrainian Government will continue to make every effort to release all the defenders of Ukraine.”

He stressed that all foreign citizens fighting as part of Ukraine’s armed forces should be considered Ukrainian military personnel, and protected as prisoners of war.

Russia is expected to use the death sentence handed down to the British men to intensify its push for a prisoner exchange with a close personal friend of Vladimir Putin.

​​Follow the latest updates below.

03:07 AM

Moscow not fussed by Zelensky’s sanctions

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has signed a decree imposing personal sanctions on Russian leaders, including President Vladimir Putin and all sitting ministers.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky takes a selfie outside his office in Kyiv - STR/UKRAINIAN PRESIDENTIAL PRESS SERVICE/AFP

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky takes a selfie outside his office in Kyiv – STR/UKRAINIAN PRESIDENTIAL PRESS SERVICE/AFP

The sanctions – approved by Ukraine’s National Security and Defence Council – target all members of Russia’s government and security council, as well as Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov.

They ban entry to Ukraine, revoke visas and permits, and block financial assets.

The decree came into force on Thursday, according to a copy published on the website of the Ukrainian presidency. Mr Zelensky also signed a directive sanctioning 236 Russian universities and their leaders.

Russia’s education minister said in response that Moscow would not be deterred.

“Today’s decision by the Kyiv regime speaks to its inadequacy and inability to control the situation. It’s a gesture of desperation, which cannot prevent the integration of Donbas and the liberated territories into a single educational space with Russia,” Sergey Kravtsov told the Interfax agency.

02:14 AM

Ukrainian army still a thorn in Russia’s side

The Ukrainian army has said Kyiv’s forces continue to frustrate Russian attempts to take the fiercely contested eastern city of Severodonetsk.

“The occupiers, with the help of motorised rifle units and artillery, conducted assault operations in the city of Severodonetsk. They were not successful; the fighting continues,” the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine said in a regular operational update on Thursday evening.

It said Ukrainian forces had successfully repelled a Russian attack on the village of Toshkivka, on the northwestern outskirts of Severodonetsk.

The Ukrainian governor of the eastern Luhansk region, where Severodonetsk is located, said “fierce battles” continue to engulf the city.

In a Telegram post, Serhiy Haidai said Russian forces continued to shell the neighbouring city of Lysychansk using large-calibre weapons which “pierce even concrete”.

“It is extremely dangerous for civilians to remain, even in shelters,” Mr Haidai said.

01:46 AM

In pictures – trail of destruction continues

An injured man makes his way past a burning college after a strike in Lysychansk, in the eastern Ukrainian region of Donbas - ARIS MESSINIS/AFP

An injured man makes his way past a burning college after a strike in Lysychansk, in the eastern Ukrainian region of Donbas – ARIS MESSINIS/AFP

A man carries a child as they make their way along the street in Borodyanka on the outskirts of Kyiv - OLEG PETRASYUK/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

A man carries a child as they make their way along the street in Borodyanka on the outskirts of Kyiv – OLEG PETRASYUK/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

A local resident reacts to what remains of a destroyed school after a strike in the city of Bakhmut, eastern Ukraine - ARIS MESSINIS/AFP

A local resident reacts to what remains of a destroyed school after a strike in the city of Bakhmut, eastern Ukraine – ARIS MESSINIS/AFP

01:26 AM

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