‘Could execute them’ Zelensky’s advisor in chilling warning over two UK fighters’ fate

Russia could execute two UK fighters says Zelensky's advisor

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Alexander Rodnyansky, a Presidential adviser to Volodymyr Zelensky, has sounded alarm bells around the fact Putin’s Russia could execute their threat and kill the two UK nationals who were sentenced to death on Thursday after a three-day show trial in the Russian-backed separatist Donetsk province of Donbas in Ukraine. To avoid that cruel scenario, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss and her Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba are reportedly considering some options like exchanging the two UK fighters with Russian soldiers.

However, Mr Rodnyansky warns Putin’s Kremlin could move ahead with the killings to deter foreign fighters from joining the Ukrainian Armed Forces.

Speaking to LBC, he warned: “They could also actually execute that decision and executive these two soldiers. So, it’s a bad situation, I’m afraid. But absolutely, there’s no way we could just, you know, forget about what’s going on in Ukraine more generally. And it is true that we need more supplies and new ammunition as possible.”

When asked about the end goal of Putin’s death sentence, Mr Rodnyansky said: “Well, I think they’re trying to set a warning example very clearly to any foreign fighter or any potential foreign legion or anybody in the West trying to, you know, think really hard and perhaps engage themselves and put their own blood on the line in order to help Ukraine win this war.”

Tens of thousands of foreigners from across the world have reportedly joined the Ukrainian army following a call by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to defend Ukraine against Russia. On 5 March, the President’s Office announced the launch of a website to guide foreign nationals through an application to join the International Defense Legion of Ukraine.  

Mr Rodnyansky continued: “So, they’re trying to send a very clear signal that this is not going to end well for these people. But it’s important to make sure they’re not successful in doing that, in sending that signal. Unfortunately, I don’t have good news here.

“I think anything could be expected from the Russians at this stage. There is an ongoing discussion basically about classifying Russian as a terrorist state as you know. And these particular actions are very much in line with why that should happen.”

On what the UK Foreign ministry could do to support the two UK soldiers, Mr Rodnyansky said: “Well, the good news is that Britain has diplomatic relations with the Russian Federation. In that sense, it’s a bit different than what was happening in the Middle East when ISIS was executing prisoners. So, in that sense, it’s a bit easier.”

Mr Rodnyansky said: “I think negotiations should take place. Obviously, if these two men are rescued – I hope that will happen – it will most likely come at a very high price in some prisoner exchange perhaps or maybe some other exchange. I’m not even sure what Britain and Ukraine could agree on in this case.

“But if it’s a prisoner exchange, it is certainly going to mean that many Russian soldiers are then going to return in exchange for these two prisoners. So, it’s a hard negotiation. We obviously have to give our best.

“But again, there’s a serious risk that Russians are all about, you know, maintaining their principles in other words and actually following through with this one. So, there is a risk.”

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The Russian Foreign Secretary Sergey Lavrov has distanced the Kremlin away from the Donetsk court’s verdict and claimed the decision was solely made by the Donetsk People’s Republic in accordance with their own legislation.

According to international law and the Geneva convention on war prisoners, “causing death or seriously endangering the health of a prisoner of war… is prohibited.”

Some lawyers argue that, because of its close links to Russia, the court may refute international law.

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