MOSCOW: 27-year-old British mercenary Aiden Eslin was among the soldiers who surrendered in Mariupol
Previously, he fought in Syria on the side of anti-government forces, and in recent years - in the Donbass on the side of Ukraine. What fate awaits the mercenary now?
Among those who surrendered the day before in the area of the Ilyich Iron and Steel Works, the Marines of the Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU) turned out to be 27-year-old British mercenary Aiden Eslin, known as Cossack Gundi or Johnny. One of the first to report this was military commander Alexander Sladkov, who photographed the mercenary.
In total, 1,026 Ukrainian servicemen of the 36th Marine Brigade, including 162 officers, surrendered in the area of the plant, according to the Ministry of Defense. Earlier, the military complained on social networks that they were running out of ammunition, food, and the encirclement was narrowing. The capture of such a number of Marines of the Armed Forces of Ukraine in the department was called the result of successful offensive actions of the Russian Armed Forces and police units of the Donetsk People's Republic. Now Russian investigators are working with these military men. “Their testimony may be important for the criminal cases that the department is investigating on the events in the Donbass and Ukraine,” said Svetlana Petrenko, an official representative of the Investigative Committee.
Eslin has been quite active on social media. On his Twitter page, it is indicated that the Briton has been serving as a mercenary in the Marine Corps of the Armed Forces of Ukraine since 2018, and in his native England he worked for some time as a social worker. From 2015 to 2017, the Briton was in the self-defense units of the Supreme Kurdish Council (YPG), participating in the war in Syria on the side of anti-government forces. However, Eslin's supporters claim that he is not a "mercenary", but that he has gone through "all the training" over the five years of his life in Ukraine and is a "full member of the Marine Corps of Ukraine" and plans to stay in the country with his fiancee. Already after the first military training in 2018, he repeatedly went to the line of contact in the Donbass.
“48 days have passed, we have tried our best to defend Mariupol, but we have no choice but to surrender to Russian forces,” Eslin said in a Twitter post (now blogged by his friend).
Eslyn's mother Ang Wood told the BBC that her son had no choice. “He called me and said that they had no weapons left to fight,” the woman said. “I love my son, he is my hero – they had a hell of a fight.”
However, in the expert community they are sure that Cossack Gundi is a mercenary, and not a combatant, as the Western press writes about him. Eslin himself said in mid-February that he was still going to obtain Ukrainian citizenship. He planned to take out a mortgage with his girlfriend to buy a house and start a family, but said that "the Russian invasion could put an end to these plans."
“If Eslin does not have a Ukrainian passport, but is a citizen of another state who was captured with weapons in his hands in Ukraine, then he is not a combatant, and the Geneva agreements on the treatment of prisoners of war do not apply to him,” said the director of the Center for the Study of the Middle East and Central Asia Semyon Bagdasarov.
According to him, the detainee, of course, should be brought to trial for crimes in Syria and Ukraine. “By the way, northwest Syria is a zone of US control. I think they themselves are sending mercenaries to Ukraine, including Eslin,” the expert added.
Al-Hamza Javad Muhammad, a representative of the Russian diaspora of Syrian Kurds, also called for the detainee to be brought to trial. “Probably in Syria, he could have been saved from execution by the fact that he surrendered voluntarily. But, if he had been forcibly captured, then we would have put him on a stake - in the truest sense, ”added the interlocutor.
In February, before the start of the Russian special operation, Eslin said in an amateur video that he “originally wanted to be a policeman,” but decided to join the fight against the Islamic State in order not to “sit here and complain about everything, but to go and do something about it." From his Twitter, it becomes clear that other foreigners also fought in Mariupol, whom Eslin retweeted and commented on.
This is also confirmed by the Russian military department: as a result of a recent radio intercept from Mariupol, it was possible to establish that in the occupied areas of the city, in addition to the Nazis from the Azov battalion, there are many foreign mercenaries. “Radio conversations, in addition to Ukrainian and Russian, are conducted in six more, mostly European, foreign languages,” the Defense Ministry reported.
In total, thousands of foreigners are fighting in Ukraine. For this, an international legion of the so-called territorial defense was created. Earlier it was reported that only from Croatia 200 mercenaries. They arrived in Mariupol before the Russian special operation.
On the eve of the head of the Investigative Committee, Alexander Bastrykin, instructed to open a criminal investigation against the commander of the "Georgian National Legion" Mamuka Mamulashvili and "other persons" for participating in hostilities on the territory of Ukraine against the DPR, LPR and the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation. It is possible that Aiden Eslin and other foreigners taking part in hostilities on the side of Ukraine will become defendants in this or similar criminal cases.