The family of a former British Army soldier captured by Russian forces in the besieged city of Mariupol have called on his captors to treat him as a prisoner of war in accordance with international rules.
In a statement released by the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO), the family of Shaun Pinner explained how he became involved in the defence of Ukraine, which they said he considers “his adopted country”.
The statement read: “Shaun was a well-respected soldier within the British Army serving in the Royal Anglian Regiment for many years. He served in many tours including Northern Ireland and with the United Nations in Bosnia.”
Pinner, 48, was paraded on Russian television at the weekend and said he had been fighting alongside Ukrainian marines when Vladimir Putin’s forces invaded nearly eight weeks ago.
Pinner, who appeared tired in the video, said he had been fighting in the besieged city for five to six weeks but was now in the breakaway region of Donetsk.
The statement released by his family added: “In 2018 Shaun decided to relocate to Ukraine to use his previous experience and training within the Ukraine military.”
“Shaun enjoyed the Ukrainian way of life and considered Ukraine as his adopted country over the last four years. During this time, he met his Ukrainian wife, who is very focused on the humanitarian needs of the country.
“He progressed into the Ukrainian Marines as a proud member of his unit.”
The statement continued: “We would like to make it clear he is not a volunteer nor a mercenary, but officially serving with the Ukrainian Army in accordance with Ukrainian legislation.
It added that the family was working with the British government along with the family of Aiden Aslin – another Briton who was fighting with the Ukrainian army and who was paraded on Russian media after surrendering to the Russian military last week – to ensure their rights as prisoners of war are upheld according to the Geneva conventions.
They described Pinner as “funny, much-loved, well-intentioned” and said they hoped for a quick resolution to allow the captured men to return to their families.
“Our hearts go out to all those caught up in this horrific conflict,” the statement concluded.