The family of a Briton sentenced to death by Russian-backed separatists in Ukraine said they were “devastated and saddened” by the outcome of the “illegal show trial”.
Shaun Pinner was captured in Mariupol in April alongside fellow Briton Aiden Aslin during the intense struggle for control of the port city.
Both men were found guilty of “mercenary activities and actions aimed at seizing power and overthrowing the constitutional order of the Donetsk People’s Republic”, although their families maintain that they were fighting legitimately as part of the Ukrainian army and should be treated as prisoners of war. .
Zelenskyy ‘didn’t want to hear it’ when warned about Russia, says Biden – follow live updates
Boris Johnson was reportedly ‘appalled’ by sentences handed down to men and ordered ministers to do “everything in their power” to secure their release.
It comes as war rages in Ukraine with heavy fighting ongoing in the key city of Severodonetsk.
Meanwhile, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has warned that the world faces “an acute and severe food crisis and famine”.
“Our family misses him so much”
In a statement, Mr Pinner’s family said: “First of all, our whole family is devastated and saddened by the outcome of the illegal show trial of the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic.
“As a resident of Ukraine for over four years and under contract with the 36th Brigade, of which he is very proud, Shaun should be granted all the rights of a prisoner of war under the Geneva Convention, including full independent legal representation.
“We sincerely hope that all parties will urgently cooperate to ensure the safe release or exchange of Shaun.
“Our family, including his son and his Ukrainian wife, love and miss him so much and our hearts go out to all the families involved in this terrible situation.”
Explanation: Why are two Britons facing the death penalty?
A Number 10 spokesman said the Prime Minister was ‘following the matter closely and asked ministers to do everything in their power to try to reunite them with their families as soon as possible’.
“You are not abandoned and you will not be abandoned”
Mr Johnson’s rallying call came as Diana Okovyta, Mr Aslin’s fiancee, traveled to London to try to campaign for his release.
And in an emotional post on social media, she assured her partner that he was not “abandoned”.
She said: “How I would like you to know that you are not forgotten, you are not alone, you are not abandoned and will not be abandoned.
“I hope that in any case deep in your soul you know and feel it. I believe that soon in the newspapers we will see pictures of you smiling.”
The UK has not announced any plans to speak to Russian officials.
Read more: Sky’s Stuart Ramsay recalls meeting convicted Britons on the frontline
- Boris Johnson ‘appalled’ by death sentence against Britons
- ‘Intense street-to-street fighting’ in Severodonetsk
- Zelensky’s famine warning against Russian blockade
Intense fighting in Severodonetsk as the Battle of Luhansk rages
Fierce fighting continues in southern and eastern Ukraine as Russian forces attempt to take full control of the Lugansk region.
The city of Severodonetsk – seen as a key target for Moscow and the last stronghold of Ukrainian resistance in the region – has seen “intense street-to-street fighting”, according to British intelligence.
The UK Ministry of Defense (MoD) said: “Russia is increasing the fires with its artillery and air capabilities, with the aim of overwhelming the Ukrainian defences.”
He also said Moscow used 5.5-tonne anti-ship missiles dating from the 1960s against ground targets.
“Russia probably resorts to such ineffective weapon systems because it lacks more accurate modern missiles, while Ukraine’s air defenses still deter its tactical aircraft from carrying out strikes across much of the country,” he said. the Ministry of Defence.
World faces risk of ‘acute and severe food crisis’, says Zelenskyy
President Zelenskyy said halting the Russian invasion was crucial for the whole world as he warned of the risk of famine.
“It is on the battlefields of Ukraine that the future rules of this world are decided and the limits of what is possible,” he said at an event in Singapore via video link.
He noted that Russia was blockading ports on the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov, preventing Ukrainian food exports from entering the global market.
“If…due to Russian blockades, we cannot export our food, the world will face an acute and severe food crisis and famine in many countries in Asia and Africa,” he said. he declares.