The fate of British fighters captured in Ukraine and sentenced to death as mercenaries is for the Donetsk People’s Republic to decide under international law, and Russia doesn’t care how that looks “in the eyes of the West,” Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told UK state broadcaster BBC in an interview on Thursday, on the sidelines of the annual St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF).
Two British nationals – Shaun Pinner and Aiden Aslin – were among a trio of foreign fighters found guilty of being mercenaries by the Supreme Court in Donetsk last week. They were sentenced to death, alongside Moroccan citizen Saadun Ibrahim.
When BBC’s Steve Rosenberg asked Lavrov about them on Thursday, the Russian foreign minister said this was a matter for the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR), which Moscow recognizes as an independent state and an ally.
“In the eyes of the West, Russia is responsible for the fate of these people,” Rosenberg began, but Lavrov cut him off.
When Rosenberg protested that the two men were not mercenaries but had served in the Ukrainian military, Lavrov said that was a matter for the court – one as legitimate and as independent as the British courts.