Liz Truss branded a liar after backtracking on Ukraine war claim

·Breaking News Editor, Yahoo News UK
·3-min read
Foreign Secretary Liz Truss speaking at the Easter Banquet at Mansion House in the City of London. Picture date: Wednesday April 27, 2022.
Liz Truss has been accused of saying 'another lie' after backtracking on comments made about supporting Brits who wanted to go to Ukraine. (PA)

The foreign secretary has been branded a liar after backtracking on comments she made claiming the UK government would "support" Brits wanting to fight in Ukraine.

Liz Truss's apparent backing of those wanting to travel to Ukraine shortly after Putin launched his invasion has come under fresh scrutiny following the capture of two British men, Aiden Aslin and Shaun Pinner, who have subsequently been sentenced to death.

While neither Mr Aslin nor Mr Pinner travelled to Ukraine to fight – as they were already living there prior to the invasion – their planned execution is a clear indication of how Moscow plans to deal with prisoners.

In February, asked if she would back Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky's call for foreigners to join Ukraine in defending the country, Truss told BBC’s Sunday Morning programme: "I do support that. Of course, that is something people can make their own decisions about.

"The people of Ukraine are fighting for freedom and democracy, not just for Ukraine but for the whole of Europe, because that is what president Putin is challenging."

Two British citizens Aiden Aslin, left, and Shaun Pinner, right, and Moroccan Saaudun Brahim, center, sit behind bars in a courtroom in Donetsk, in the territory which is under the Government of the Donetsk People's Republic control, eastern Ukraine, Thursday, June 9, 2022. The two British citizens and a Moroccan have been sentenced to death by pro-Moscow rebels in eastern Ukraine for fighting on Ukraine's side. The three men fought alongside Ukrainian troops and surrendered to Russian forces weeks ago. (AP Photo)
Two British citizens Aiden Aslin, left, and Shaun Pinner, right, and Moroccan Saaudun Brahim, centre, sit behind bars in a courtroom in Donetsk. (AP)

At the time the official advice from the Foreign Office warned against all travel to Ukraine as Putin's forces tried – and failed – to mount a full-scale invasion.

But on Tuesday, Truss was asked as to whether such comments about British fighters were a mistake.

But she denied sending mixed messages, telling BBC Radio 4: “We’ve always been clear that our travel advice is not to go to Ukraine and I was clear about that at the time.”

When pressed on whether she encouraged Brits to head to Ukraine, she insisted: “What I said though, is I also said the travel advice is not to go to Ukraine.”

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Labour MP Chris Bryant said the claim amounted to "another lie" in a tweet responding to her comments.

Mr Aslin and Mr Pinner have been sentenced to death in an occupied area of Ukraine after Russia accused them of being "foreign mercenaries".

The UK has said the men were already part of the Ukrainian army and, as such, should be treated as prisoners of war and protected under the Geneva Convention.

(Twitter)
Labour MP Chris Bryant made the comment on Twitter. (Twitter)

The two were convicted of taking action towards violent seizure of power during a show trial at a court in the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic.

Russian media outlet RIA Novosti reported that the two are set to face a firing squad.

Interfax, a Russian news agency, claimed the men would be able to appeal against their convictions.

Mr Aslin, originally from Newark-on-Trent in Nottinghamshire, and Mr Pinner were both members of regular Ukrainian military units fighting in Mariupol, the southern port city which was the scene of some of the heaviest fighting since Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

In this photo taken from video released by the Russian Defense Ministry on Monday, June 13, 2022, a view of the Metallurgical Combine Azovstal plant, in Mariupol, on the territory which is under the Government of the Donetsk People's Republic control, eastern Ukraine. The plant was almost completely destroyed during the siege of Mariupol. (Russian Defense Ministry Press Service via AP)
The Metallurgical Combine Azovstal plant, in Mariupol, after Russia claimed it following heavy fighting. (AP)
In this photo taken from video released by the Russian Defense Ministry on Monday, June 13, 2022, Russian military vehicle stand next to the Metallurgical Combine Azovstal plant, in Mariupol, on the territory which is under the Government of the Donetsk People's Republic control, eastern Ukraine. The plant was almost completely destroyed during the siege of Mariupol. (Russian Defense Ministry Press Service via AP)
Much of Ukraine has been destroyed by Russia. (AP)

Truss has assured their families she is doing "whatever is necessary” to secure their release, and the government is “working flat out” to secure their release after their “sham” trial by a pro-Moscow proxy.

Yahoo News UK has approached the Foreign Office for comment.

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