Ukraine: Expert warns ‘food is running out’ in Mariupol
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In a message on Twitter written on his behalf, 28-year-old Aiden, “Johnny”, Aslin said that his unit had been forced to surrender after running out of food and ammunition.
It said: “We’ve gotten word from Johnny: ‘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.'”
Mariupol, a port in southeastern Ukraine on the Azov Sea, is the country’s most besieged city where an estimated 21,000 people have been killed by Russian forces.
The care worker from Newark in Nottinghamshire, previously fought against the so-called Islamic State (ISIS) in Syria before moving to Ukraine in 2018, where he serves in the country’s marines.
His family hopes he could become part of a prisoner exchange. The statement continued: “We’re putting this out after direct consultation with his family. Until we’re told otherwise we’ll continue working on sharing the facts of the war. Hope for a prisoner exchange.”
One of his friends wrote on Instagram: “He is surrendering to Russians which is only slightly better than surrendering to the Chechens. Their commander will be meeting them soon. Please Lord have mercy.”
Mr Aslin is engaged to a Ukrainian woman who told The Telegraph that he was in a “positive frame of mind and even managed to crack jokes when he phoned her to tell her on Tuesday morning.”
The woman, who requested anonymity, said: “When I heard the news I felt like the world had fallen in. It was like I was the one being taken prisoner. He was reassuring me, saying everything would be alright.
“It is hard, because since March 1 they were trying to save food and ammunition. They were completely isolated and they didn’t know how long they would have to hold out. But bit by bit they ran out of everything.”
Robert Jenrick, Mr Aslin’s local MP, has said he was working with his family and the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) to establish his whereabouts and secure his release.
He said: “I’ve known Aiden and his family for many years. He is an unusually brave and determined young man. He has fought with immense courage, most recently at the siege of Mariupol.”
A recording of a phone call shared on social media, appears to document a phone call between Mr Aslin and an American volunteer. In it, Aslin says: “They’re [Russians] probably gonna use me for f***ing bullshit propaganda. They’re already looking for me . . . We’ve been trying [to leave] for the past three weeks.”
The brigade Mr Aslin fought with announced that they were dealing with a “mountain of wounded”.
But Mariupol’s deputy mayor, Serhiy Orlov, insisted on Monday night that Ukrainian forces were holding out against Putin’s army.
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