A British man fighting for Ukraine in the besieged city of Mariupol was forced to surrender on Tuesday after his unit ran out of ammunition – making him the first known British prisoner of war in Russia, according to reports.
Aiden Aslin, 27, a member of Ukraine’s Marines, surrendered with his unit during an intensified attack by Russia, which is feared to have included phosphorus bombs or even chemical weapons.
“He called me and said they have no weapons left to fight,” his mother, Ang Wood, told the BBC.
“I love my son. He’s my hero. They fought a hell of a battle,” she said, urging British leader Boris Johnson “to take [Russian President Vladimir] Putin down. “
Aslin, a former Nottinghamshire care worker who moved to Ukraine in 2018 to be with his fiancée, told friends his unit ran out of food as well as ammunition and other supplies, the BBC said.
“They can not get out. They can not fight back. So they had no choice,” said a friend.
“I’m sure if they had a bullet left, they would have shot it.”
British war reporter Jake Hanrahan also confirmed that Aslin – also known as Cossack Gundî or Johnny – surrendered with his unit after “they fought like hell for 48 days.”
“Aiden will be a Russian prisoner of war,” the reporter said.
That makes him the first known British prisoner of war in the Ukraine conflict, and his family is already hoping for a prisoner exchange, the Telegraph said.
Before surrendering, Aslin reportedly posted a message telling friends, “It’s been a pleasure everyone, I hope this war ends soon.”
The British fighter jet was a member of the 39th Brigade of Ukrainian Marines, according to Sun – just one of the units in Mariupol that admitted desperate conditions and probably defeat.
“For more than a month, we fought without supplying our ammunition, without food, without water,” the 39th Brigade wrote in an alarming Facebook post, saying its heroic troops had been “bombed from planes and shot at by artillery” and tanks. “
At least half of the unit has been injured – but returned immediately to battle, including chefs and members of the orchestra, the unit said.
“There, but struggling … gradually we’re running out,” the unit said.
“It’s death for some of us, and captivity for the rest. Do not speak ill of the Marines. For we are faithful forever!”
The latest death row reports from Mariupol – a junction between Russian-controlled areas to the west and east – come after alarming reports that Russia may have used chemical weapons in the almost completely destroyed city, where tens of thousands are feared dead.
However, Deputy Secretary of Defense Hanna Malyar said on Tuesday that there is now “a theory that these could be phosphorus ammunition” which is not classified as chemical warfare.
Mariupol City Council said it is impossible to investigate the area due to enemy fire. It added that the city’s civilian population had minimal contact with the unspecified poison, but that Ukrainian soldiers had come into closer contact and were now being observed for possible symptoms.
President Volodymyr Zelensky said Monday night that Russia could resort to chemical weapons as it assembled troops in the eastern Donbas region for a new attack on Mariupol. He did not say whether they had actually been used.
The United States and Britain said they were trying to verify the reports.
If Russia had used chemical weapons, “all options were on the table” in response, said British Junior Defense Secretary James Heappey in London.
The manufacture, use and storage of chemical weapons is prohibited under the Chemical Weapons Convention of 1997. Although condemned by human rights groups, white phosphorus is not prohibited under the Convention.
Russian has not yet commented on the allegations. However, Russian-backed separatist forces in the east refused to use chemical weapons in Mariupol, the Interfax news agency reported.
With Post wires