The so-called “Supreme Court” of the artificial “Donetsk People’s Republic” – has lifted the moratorium on the death penalty, a move that was taken as a clear sign that the “DNR” intends to execute two British and one Moroccan citizen who Russia via its proxies in the “DNR” allege were mercenaries in Ukraine. The men have been held for months following their capture in battle in the eastern part of Ukraine.

As the Kyiv Post has earlier reported, the British soldiers and their families have publicly claimed that the men were not mercenaries, but rather formally Marines of the Ukrainian military. However, the Russian proxies have maintained that the men were, and would be treated as, mercenaries.

International law generally forbids the execution of prisoners of war (POWs) – but the same guarantee is not afforded to mercenaries.

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British Foreign Minister, Liz Truss, wrote on Twitter that “I utterly condemn the sentencing of Aiden Aslin and Shaun Pinner held by Russian proxies in eastern Ukraine. They are prisoners of war. This is a sham judgment with absolutely no legitimacy. My thoughts are with the families. We continue to do everything we can to support them.”

Steve Nix, a Washington, agreed and said that “the DNR has absolutely no legitimacy and is not recognized by any country or international body of any seriousness.” Thus, “the rulings of its so-called ‘courts’ are meaningless.”

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Nix was confident that if the “ruling” against the Brits and Moroccan were appealed to an international court, the verdict would undoubtedly be that the men were, in fact, Prisoners of War, and not mercenaries.

Non-recognition of the two “breakaway countries,” propped-up by Russia, has caused consternation in Moscow. Russia has sought to rally its allies to recognize the “DNR,” but their efforts have proven to be largely fruitless.

Aside from Russia, the only other nations to recognize the “DNR” and the so-called “Luhansk People’s Republic” (“LPR”) are Syria, and as of this week, North Korea. The legitimacy of the beleaguered national government Syrian dictator Bashar Al-Asad, and North Korean autocrat Kim Jong-un, are not universally recognized by all countries.

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Last month, Russian Pres. Vladimir Putin faced a rare public rebuke when Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Kemeluly Tokayev, while speaking at a Forum alongside Putin, said that his country would not recognize the “DNR” or “LNR” as “countries.”

“If the ‘country’ does not exist – neither do their ‘courts’’ rulings have any validity,” said Nix.

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