While Russia has launched its major offensive in eastern Ukraine and the battle for Mariupol is becoming more and more dramatic, the possible exchange of prisoners of war between Russia and Ukraine is also developing into a thriller. After both Russia and Ukraine released videos of prisoners asking for an exchange of themselves at almost the same time on Monday, their fate remains uncertain (eXXpress reported).
While Ukraine clearly appears to have the “more valuable” pawn in its hands in Viktor Medvechuk, an entrepreneur and close friend of Vladimir Putin, concern is mounting for the two British soldiers who until just a few days ago fought alongside Ukraine in Mariupol : Although they have now been offered by Russia in exchange for Medvechuk, Ukraine knows the oligarch’s “value” and wants more – demanding the safety of the remaining defenders of Mariupol and any Ukrainians still there.
For the two Britons, an exchange for Medvechuk could be the only chance: In the recordings published by Russian state television, the British mercenaries appear intimidated, tired – and especially Pinner, the older of the two, you can see the hardships. While he explains in the footage that he “completely understands” the situation he and Aslin are in and is said to have been treated relatively “well” – they were given “water and food” – he pleads for his exchange himself and his colleague against Medvechuk. He, who had already emphasized in previous reports that he wanted to go home, expressed a heartbreaking wish: “I just want to see my wife again. Please let her see me again”
Meanwhile, Pinner’s family is fighting desperately for the life of the Briton, who has been living in Ukraine since 2018. Shortly after it became known that the 48-year-old Brit was a prisoner of war, his family released a statement in which they explained that, contrary to Russian claims, Shaun was not a mercenary but a volunteer. He is very well a professional soldier who had served in the British military for many years and was stationed in Northern Ireland and Bosnia Herzegovina, among other places, before coming to Ukraine.
There he also met his wife Larysa. Larysa Pinner is a Ukrainian who is enthusiastic about humanitarian causes – even before the war, his family said. So it was natural for him to fight for her home country and his adopted country.
In response to the new footage, Cassandra Pinner, Shaun’s sister, said his family had seen the videos and were in talks about a prisoner swap – but not for Medvechuk. A Home Office source, meanwhile, condemned “the exploitation of prisoners of war for political ends”.