First photo of battered Brit captured by Russians in Mariupol's last stand emerges

14 April 2022, 14:52 | Updated: 14 April 2022, 15:53

The first photo of the British volunteer captured by invading forces in Ukraine has emerged
The first photo of the British volunteer captured by invading forces in Ukraine has emerged. Picture: Twitter/Alamy

By Will Taylor and Lauren Lewis

The first photo of the British volunteer in Ukraine who was captured by Russian forces in a last stand has emerged.

Aiden Aslin is seen looking bruised, one eye close to being shut, as he is posed with his arms horizontal in front of him.

The 27-year-old former care worker, known as Johnny, and other international volunteers were reported to have laid down arms earlier this week.

They had run out of food and ammunition as they tried to fight off forces in the devastated city of Mariupol, in the south of the country.

A post shared by a contact on Twitter read: "It's been 48 days, we tried our best to defend Mariupol but we have no choice but to surrender to Russian forces.

"We have no food and no ammunition. It's been a pleasure everyone, I hope this war ends soon."

The city has been devastated by Russian forces who are desperate to seize it. Capturing the city, which has held out for weeks in the face of heavy attacks, is key to linking Russia with occupied Crimea via the Donbas region.

It is understood Aslin, who has fought with the Ukrainian marines since 2018, spoke to his family prior to surrendering, telling them they had "no weapons left". His mother said on Tuesday he "put up one hell of a fight."

It comes as the besieged southern port city Mariupol was on the verge of capitulation last night after 1,062 Ukrainian soldiers, including 162 officers, holed up in the Azovstal steelworks appeared to surrender to Russian forces.

Moscow claimed soldiers from the the 36th Marine Brigade had voluntarily laid down their arms and said their forces had taken control of Mariupol's port. Kyiv has denied the claims.

Mariupol has been under near-constant assault from Russian troops since the war started nearly seven weeks ago.

It became a symbolic image of Russian aggression after a maternity unit in the city was hit in a "direct strike" in March, despite being clearly marked as an operational hospital.

At least five people, including a pregnant woman and her unborn child, died in the attack.

Read more: ‘Go f*** yourself’ Russian warship Moskva blown up in Ukrainian missile strike

An Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) report published yesterday said those responsible for a missile attack on Mariupol's maternity hospital had "committed a war crime".

The report also accused Putin of "clear patterns or international humanitarian law violations" and said civilian casualties could have been avoided if Russia respected international obligations.

It found targeted killings, forced disappearances and abductions of civilians, journalists and officials were carried out "routinely" and said those responsible for a missile attack on Mariupol's maternity hospital had "committed a war crime".

Moscow was said to have deployed mobile crematoriums in the city in an attempt to hide the scale of Russia's attacks.

Ukrainian officials said up to 10,000 people had been killed in the city.

The city's Mayor said Mariupol can no longer be compared to the tragedies in Chechnya or Aleppo, instead saying "this is the new Auschwitz and Majdanek".

Meanwhile today Kyiv's forces said they had destroyed Russian warship Moskva in the Black Sea after hitting it with two Neptune missiles overnight.

Odesa governor Maksim Marchenko wrote on Telegram: "It has been confirmed that the missile cruiser Moscow today went exactly where it was sent by our border guards on Snake Island! Neptune missiles guarding the Black Sea caused very serious damage to the Russian ship. Glory to Ukraine!"

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Marchenko was referring to an incident on Snake Island where Ukrainian defenders were hailed heroes in late February for telling the Moskva to "go f**k yourself" when it demanded they surrender.

Moscow admitted a fire had broken out on the vessel which caused ammunition on board to explode, "badly damaging" the Russian flagship.

The vessel's crew of 510 were evacuated safely, the statement added, without giving details on what caused the blaze but adding the incident is being "investigated".

Earlier this week the UK's Ministry of Defence warned that Putin may have resorted to using "phosphorous bombs" on targets in Mariupol as Moscow's forces try to take the city.

"Russian forces prior use of phosphorous munitions in the Donetsk Oblast raises the possibility of their future employment in Mariupol as fighting for the city intensifies," said the MoD.

White phosphorus is used for illumination at night or to create a smokescreen, but when it is deployed as a weapon it causes horrific burns.

President Zelenskyy has previously accused Russia of using the chemical.