Aiden Aslin: Grandmother's horror at grandson's capture in Ukraine

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Media caption,

Pamela Hall says she is worried about how Aiden Aslin is being treated

The grandmother of a British man who has been captured in Ukraine has said she is horrified by images of him being shown in Russian media.

"They're using him for propaganda purposes," said Pamela Hall, viewing a clip of her grandson Aiden Aslin from her flat in Nottinghamshire.

Mr Aslin had been defending the battered city of Mariupol.

Russia has besieged and bombarded Mariupol for weeks and Mr Aslin said his unit had to give themselves up.

Thousands of civilians have been trapped in the city, and reports suggest the city could soon fall.

Earlier this week, Russia said more than 1,000 Ukrainian marines had surrendered in Mariupol, but Ukraine denied this, saying troops were still fighting.

Image source, Facebook
Image caption,
Aiden Aslin, photographed here in Syria, has been fighting alongside the Ukrainian army

In a final video message, he said "We've finally exhausted all our resources, run out of ammunition, food, we're just waiting for the command now to lay down our arms and head towards Russian soldiers. Hopefully you'll see something from me in future."

Mr Aslin, originally from Newark in Nottinghamshire, has appeared in photos and video footage on Russian television in which he looked bruised and swollen as he was questioned.

"I was horrified absolutely horrified, my heart stopped," said his grandmother, who described the family's shock at seeing him in a brutal image being shown widely to Russian audiences.

"I saw that photograph where his face is swollen, he has a nasty gash.

"Having seen him, I know he's alive but I"m not sure that's a comfort because I don't know how he's being treated."

Unlike many foreign fighters who have travelled to Ukraine since the Russian invasion, Mr Aslin was no newcomer.

He had become a marine with the Ukrainian military in 2018, was engaged to marry a Ukrainian, and had made the country his home.

The former care worker also previously fought with Kurdish armed units in Syria against so-called Islamic State.

He knew of course, the risks of military service, but his grandmother said like many people he never expected the conflict to escalate so quickly.

"We never imagined they would run out of ammunition. If they hadn't they never would have surrendered" she said.

"He was an official member of the Ukrainian marines and I hope that all of the those guys are treated with respect. He always wanted to help people and had wanted to help Ukraine, and wanted the world to help Ukraine more."

Media caption,

WATCH: Drone footage shows extensive Mariupol shelling damage

His image is now also being shown widely across pro-Kremlin social media channels.

It is a sinister warning as to what may become of someone who is British and may fall into the hands of Russian forces.

"I don't think I'll ever forget seeing his face as he was - he just looks so beaten" said Ms Hall

"They're using him, for propaganda purposes, whereas the Ukrainian guys are just one of many."

The family say they can only now hope for a prison exchange and they are in touch with the UK Foreign Office.

But this conflict is also a battle of propaganda, in which it is now clear the Kremlin are using Mr Aslin for their own ends.

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