Brit hero Aiden Aslin has finally returned home[/caption]
He appeared exhausted but smiled as he got out of the car[/caption]
He was followed by his family as he went inside his home[/caption]
Wearing grey tracksuit bottoms, a navy blue t-shirt and a red hoodie, he smiled as he got out of the car.
Flanked by his loved ones, Aiden spoke very briefly before stepping inside his house.
“I want to thank everyone who helped secure our release, especially President Zelensky,” he said.
“In the next few days, we will say what we need to say to the media.”
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He was released yesterday in a shock last-minute prison deal brokered with Saudi Arabia.
Aslin was released alongside nine other foreign fighters including four Brits.
Shaun Pinner, who had been sentenced to death by a Kremlin-backed kangaroo court, was also pictured during his emotional reunion with his loved ones after his months-long captivity.
He was one of five British prisoners caught by Russia while fighting in Ukraine who have been freed.
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All five have now returned to the UK after landing at Heathrow Airport.
The captives were freed in a surprise deal negotiated between Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
It’s believed they may have been traded for high-ranking Russian officers captured by Ukraine in its recent lightning victory.
The release came just hours after unhinged tyrant Putin threatened to nuke the West and ordered reserves to be mobilised in a bid to reverse his armed forces’ crumbling fortunes in Ukraine.
On the flight out of captivity, Aiden Aslin recorded a video message for his supporters with Shaun sitting next to him.
“We just want to let everyone know that we’re now out of the danger zone, ” he said, to which Shaun added “by the skin of our teeth!”.
Aiden added: “We’re on our way home to our families.”
“We just want everyone to know the good news and thanks to everyone who’s been supporting us.”
Ex-care worker Aiden, 28, from Newark, Nottinghamshire, was captured fighting for the Ukrainian armed forces during the brutal battle for the Azovstal steel plant in the city of Mariupol, in April.
Former British army soldier Shaun, 46, was captured alongside Aiden.
The men’s families spoke of their joy and relief after hearing the news that they had been released.
Shaun’s mum Debbie Price told The Sun: “I have no idea how this has happened or why he’s in Saudi Arabia but I’m overjoyed – it’s wonderful news.”
Aiden’s mum Ang Wood said she was “still in a state of complete shock” and her focus was now on getting her son home safely.
Ang, of Balderton, Notts., said: “The last 24 hours have been an absolute whirlwind and I’m just trying to get my head around everything.
“I’m obviously overjoyed and hugely relieved but my focus is on getting him home safely now.
“I’m just still in complete shock I think. It’s quite emotional. I didn’t know if this day would ever come. I’m still trying to process the news myself.”
I want to thank everyone who helped secure our release, especially President Zelensky
James Rushton, a British independent security analyst based in Kyiv, claimed those released were part of a high level prisoner swap, with senior Russians going the other way.
He told The Sun Online: “They’ve almost certainly been freed as part of a prisoner swap.
“The Ukrainians caught some pretty high level prisoners around Kharkiv, so probably swapped them back for these foreign fighters and the Azovstal guys.
“I’m pretty sure the Russians would only release them if they got something in return.”
The other freed Brits were understood to be foreign fighters Andrew Hill and John Harding and civilian detainee Dylan Healy.
The Russians had claimed Aiden and Shaun were mercenaries and sentenced them to death by firing squad after a sham trial in a pro-Moscow breakaway region of Ukraine.
Both were paraded on Russian TV in sick propaganda stunts and disturbing footage showed Aiden being forced to sing the country’s national anthem.
Ukraine insisted both men were entitled to protection under the Geneva Convention as they were residents of the country and serving under regular military contracts with its armed forces.
Prime Minister Liz Truss hailed the “hugely welcome news that five British nationals held by Russian-backed proxies in eastern Ukraine are being safely returned”.
She said it ended “months of uncertainty and suffering for them and their families”.
Foreign Secretary James Cleverly thanked the Saudis and Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky.
Both Aiden and Shaun were professional salaried soldiers in Ukraine’s 36th Marines.
Aiden moved to Ukraine and enlisted as a member of the country’s army in 2018.
He had previously fought against Isis in Syria with Kurdish forces, serving with the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG).
Watford-born former waste manage Shaun, who served with the Royal Anglian Regiment, was detained alongside Aslin in Mariupol.
He moved to Ukraine several years ago with his wife and later joined the military.
Shaun was due to finish his three-year military contract later this year and according to reports quoting his lawyer, was hoping to enter a humanitarian role.
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Sadly another Brit, Paul Urey, died while in Russian captivity after being captured in April.
The 45-year-old humanitarian worker showed signs of suffering “unspeakable torture” Ukraine’s foreign minister said when dad-of-two Paul’s body was returned home in July.
Aiden and Shaun along with a Moroccan prisoner as they were sentenced to death[/caption]
The other freed Brits were understood to include civilian detainee Dylan Healy[/caption]
John Harding is also among the Brit foreign fighters freed[/caption]