Tortured and unable to walk: Briton describes being held captive by Russian forces in Ukraine


A British national captured by Russian forces while fighting alongside Ukrainian troops has recalled how he was tortured and left unable to walk during his ordeal.

Shaun Pinner was among five Britons released from Russian detention in Ukraine in a prisoner swap last September.

Appearing on this week’s Beth Rigby Interviews, the former soldier also called for Ukraine to receive fighter jets as part of “continued support” to stop Vladimir Putin’s invasion.

Stuart Ramsay Eyewitness. Ukraine. Sean
Shaun Pinner

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And he warned the Russian president: “One day, you’ll be found out.”

Mr Pinner, from Bedfordshire, says he was serving with regular military units in Mariupol before he was detained in the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic in eastern Ukraine.

Recalling how his captives gave him electric shocks, he told Rigby: “You feel like your muscles are popping out of you, your body.

“And the next day, my legs inflated very badly. The blood was kind of capillaries were leaking blood from my legs.

“When I took my thermal off I was just bleeding from my leg from the electric shock, and my legs had inflated so I couldn’t walk.”

The prisoner of war told how one man cut off his clothing to see if he had any right-wing tattoos, before stabbing him in the leg.

“He just went ‘Oh’ and I was just bleeding everywhere, all over my legs.

“I was screaming … and then I had 200 volts go through me on the chair, control my leg, and I was literally standing up and he electrocuted me in there.

“I didn’t really ask any questions.”

Mr Pinner appearing on Sky News Beth Rigby Interviews programme
Mr Pinner appearing on Sky News Beth Rigby Interviews programme

‘I was petrified’

Speaking about what he witnessed while fighting in Ukraine, ahead of the first anniversary of the invasion on Friday, Mr Pinner told Rigby: “The bombing goes all the way back from the front lines to Mariupol.

“I saw a school, with the kids’ coats hanging up … where they’ve been evacuated and put in a cellar, and they just hit the school, didn’t care about it.

“They were hitting any government building they could target.”

He and his team nicknamed the sound of the bombing “Phil Collins” – adding: “De dom de dom de dom. You know, it sounds just like that beat as it comes in – very slow, it builds up and then it was bop, bop, bop, bop, bop, very intense.”

Recalling the moment the Russians came over the border during the initial invasion of Ukraine, Mr Pinner said: “Your adrenaline is going. You’re nervous, you’re scared.

“You know people that say they aren’t scared. I was petrified. You know, it’s Russia.”

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Britons released in prisoner swap arrive in UK

He also called on Britain to give Ukraine the fighter jets requested by President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

“They need continued support,” Mr Pinner told Rigby.

“If you ask the foreign fighters over there, they just want to support.”

He conceded it is difficult to train people to use fighter jets but added: “That’s not my part, I just want fighter jets.”

And Mr Pinner vowed Ukraine should not yet engage in peace talks with Putin.

“One of the things I say to people is, how much of America or Norway or Britain would you be willing to lose to talk peace?

“I doubt America would give up an inch, especially Britain wouldn’t.

“So, you know, Ukraine is exactly the same.

“If we give an inch now, they will come back in three years, five years, push a bit more – like they’ve done with Crimea.”

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