LiveUkraine-Russia war latest: British prisoners freed by Moscow as Russians protest Putin’s mobilisation

Russian President Vladimir Putin has announced a dramatic escalation in the war with Ukraine and also threatened nuclear war.

Five Britons who were fighting for Ukraine have been released by Russian-backed forces in the east of the country, in the biggest prisoner trade since the start of the war.

It comes after protests broke out across Russia after Vladimir Putin announced a “partial mobilisation” of forces in Russia, a dramatic escalation in the invasion of Ukraine.

The Russian President also appeared to threaten nuclear war, saying he would use “all means available to us”. Liz Truss told the UN that Putin’s “sabre-rattling” would not work, and said he was trying to justify his “catastrophic failures”.

Follow our live blog for the latest updates and analysis from NationalWorld reporters.

Vladimir Putin announces ‘partial mobilisation’ of Russia - live

Last updated: Thursday, 22 September, 2022, 19:32

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Family of released prisoner tells of ‘harrowing time'

The family of Shaun Pinner, who was released from imprisonment in Russia in one of the biggest prisoner swaps of the conflict, have spoken of the “harrowing time” they when through while he was captured.

Mr Pinner had previously been sentenced to death on mercenary charges by a Donetsk court in July, after being captured by Russian troops alongisde Aiden Aslin in April. Mr Aslin has also been released.

In a statement released by the Foreign Office, Mr Pinner’s family said: “We would like to thank everybody involved in Shaun’s release, especially all at the Foreign Office, Liz Truss and her team, Boris Johnson and (Ukrainian) President (Volodymyr) Zelensky.

“Shaun would also like to thank the hospitality of the Saudi Government and Prince Mohammed bin Salman al Saud who also assisted in the negotiations for his freedom.

“It’s a very emotional time as you can expect and we are unable to currently discuss so early in his release any details fully. It’s been a harrowing time for Shaun and our family which has now had such a happy resolution. Shaun is in good spirits and still has his sense of humour intact. He is looking forward to steak and a glass of red wine tonight.

“We are now enjoying some family time and would appreciate the privacy at this moment.”

Mr Prinner has returned to his family home in Bedfordshire.

Shaun Pinner (left) has rejoined his family after being released from Russian imprisonment. (Credit: PA)

Missile strikes keep hitting Ukraine despite prisoner swap

Russian and Ukrainian forces exchanged missile and artillery barrages as both sides refused to concede ground – despite recent military setbacks for Moscow and the toll on the invaded country after almost seven months of war.

Russian missile strikes in the southern city of Zaporizhzhia left one person dead and five wounded, Ukrainian officials said.

Officials in the separatist-controlled city of Donetsk said Ukrainian shelling killed at least six people.

Kyrylo Tymoshenko, the deputy of the Ukrainian president’s office, said a hotel in Zaporizhzhia was hit and rescuers were trying to free people trapped in rubble.

The governor of the Zaporizhzhia region, Oleksandr Starukh, said Russian forces targeted infrastructure and damaged apartment buildings.

The region is one of four where Moscow-installed officials plan to hold referendums starting on Friday on becoming part of Russia, though the city itself is in Ukrainian hands.

The mayor of the separatist-controlled city of Donetsk, Alexei Kulemzin, said Ukrainian shelling hit a covered market and a minibus.

Overnight, one person was killed during Russian shelling in Nikopol, across the river from the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power station, according to the Dnipropetrovsk regional governor.

Foreign Secretary calls for countries to refuse to recognise results of “sham” referenda

The Foreign Secretary has called on countries to reject the “charade” of referenda to be held in Russian-controlled regions in eastern and southern of Ukraine.

Speaking at the United Nations Security Council, James Cleverly argued that the Russian president plans to fix the results of votes on becoming parts of Russia.

He said: “We have information which means that we know that Russia is about to hold sham referenda on sovereign Ukrainian territory with no basis in law under the threat of violence after mass displacements of people in areas that voted overwhelmingly for Ukrainian independence.

“We know what Vladimir Putin is doing. He is planning to fabricate the outcome of those referenda, he is planning to use that to annex sovereign Ukrainian territory, and he is planning to use it as a further pretext to escalate his aggression.

“We call on all countries to reject this charade and to refuse to recognise any results”.

Five Britons released by Russia named

John Harding, Dylan Healy and Andrew Hill were the three other British nationals released by Russian-backed forces, it is understood.

Prime Minister Liz Truss confirmed on Wednesday that five Britons captured since the war in Ukraine began were being released, with Shaun Pinner and Aiden Aslin already believed to be among that number.

Putin-linked Oligarch Viktor Medvedchuk swapped for 200 Ukrainian soldiers

President Volodymr Zelensky said his government had won freedom from Russian custody for 215 Ukrainian and foreign citizens, with the help of Turkish and Saudi mediation efforts.

Of the total, 200 Ukrainians were exchanged for just one man — pro-Russian opposition leader Viktor Medvedchuk, who is Ukrainian. The 68-year-old oligarch escaped from house arrest in Ukraine several days before Russia’s invasion on February 24 but was recaptured in April.

Russian officials did not immediately comment on what appeared to be the biggest prisoner swap of the nearly seven-month war.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is believed to be the godfather of Mr Medvedchuk’s youngest daughter, and his detention sparked a heated exchange between officials in Moscow and Kyiv.

He is the head of the political council of Ukraine’s pro-Russian Opposition Platform-For Life party, the largest opposition group in Ukraine’s parliament. The government has suspended the party’s activity.

Ukrainian lawmaker Viktor Medvedchuk, who counts Russian President Vladimir Putin among his personal friends, has been released to Russia in exchanged for 200 Ukrainian POWs. Credit: SERGEI SUPINSKY/AFP via Getty Images

Five Britons held by Russian forces have been released

Five Britons who were fighting for Ukraine have been released by Russian-backed forces in the east of the country.

It is the biggest prisoner swap since the start of the war, and includes many people who defended a steel plant in Mariupol during the Russian siege.

These include Aiden Aslin and Shaun Pinner, who were sentenced to death by Russian forces in the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic earlier this year.

John Harding, who had been fighting with Ukrainian forces since 2018, and two other unidentified Britons were also released.

The UK government has not confirmed details about any of the British nationals or the process that led to their release.

Two British citizens Aiden Aslin, left, and Shaun Pinner, right sit behind bars in a Russian-backed courtroom in Donetsk.

More than 1,300 protesters detained in Russia

According to OVD-Info, more than 1,300 people have been arrested following protests in Russia against the war.

Demonstrators protested the mobilisation of Russian reserves, and called for the end of the conflict in Ukraine altogether.

The highest number of detainees came in St Petersburg and Moscow, with protesters lining Arbat Street in the Russian capital.

Russian police have detained more than 1,3000 people following protests against the Ukraine war. (Credit: Getty Images)

Britons held by Russia released

Five British prisoners who were captured by Russia have been released, Prime Minister Liz Truss has confirmed.

In her statement confirming the release of the detainees, Ms Truss thanked Vlodymyr Zelensky and Saudi Arabia for their help in securing the saftey of the prisoners

Among those released includes Aiden Aslin, who was sentenced to death after being captured in eastern Ukraine.

The release come as part of a prisoner swap between Ukraine and Russia.

Protests break out in Russian cities

Protests have broken out in cities across Russia, calling for an end to the war.

In one video posted to social media, police pushed back against protesters in St Petersburg as they chanted ‘No to War’.

The Vesna anti-war coalition called on Russians to protest Putin’s mobilisation call in central squares across the country.

UK ‘will never recognise’ sham referendum results

Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said the UK would never recognise the results of “sham referendums” held in occupied Ukraine.

He said Vladimir Putin’s “referendum playbook” was a “blatant sham designed to seize Ukraine’s land”.

“Any votes held at the barrel of a gun cannot be free or fair.

“We will never recognise the results of any sham referendums or attempts to annex Ukraine’s sovereign territory.”

(Graphic: Mark Hall / NationalWorld)
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