03 Jul British prisoners in Ukraine could be held for years, says major general
BRITONS captured by Russia in Ukraine are likely to be sentenced to death but could be used as bargaining chips in negotiations to end the conflict.
Major General Tim Cross told GB News: “These guys are obviously under real pressure and their families will be really worried…
“I’m sure these guys will be on trial and sadly I suspect that they will be found guilty and probably given a death sentence. That’s what happened to the two British guys earlier this year.
“Now, whether that would actually be carried out or not, is something completely different. I don’t know the circumstances, that’s obviously it’s going to unfurl in the weeks ahead, but it’s possible that they will then use them as bargaining chips in negotiations, prisoner exchanges or whatever.
“But sadly, and particularly for the families, this is not going to be resolved quickly.
“It’ll drag on for weeks, if not months, I think, indeed, potentially even years.”
Speaking in an interview during Breakfast with Anne Diamond and Paul Hawkins, Major General Cross said the pair are likely to be the subject of discreet diplomatic efforts to free them.
“We need to understand Putin and we need to understand their mentality and their psychology and sadly by using megaphone diplomacy when you then come to issues like this, where you want quiet diplomacy and you want to be able to talk under the radar and have sensible negotiations, it becomes much more difficult and the Russians will undoubtedly use this,” he said.
“There’s no doubt in my mind at all that Putin thinks that Kyiv is the spiritual home of Russian Orthodoxy, and we could go into his own his own faith in inverted commas and his support from his Archbishop, Archbishop Kirill, who undoubtedly is supporting him on this and probably convinced each other this is a just war, a just campaign.
“Crimea is historically Russian, they would argue, these eastern provinces and indeed elsewhere, are lots of Russian speakers, and they belong to Russia is rather like Nazi Germany in the late 1930s, arguing about how the Germans in Austria were part of Germany and so forth.
“This is not unusual in one sense, but Putin genuinely believes this stuff. There’s no good saying he’s not right, it’s not fair and whatever.
“He genuinely believes it and therefore, in the context of how we take him on, how we support Ukraine, the messages we send, they have to be seen in that context as we put together our strategic intent of how we tackle this campaign.”
Major General Cross said the war is likely to continue for months and victory is not guaranteed.
“It’s possible that Ukraine will come out of this badly and that all the support we’ve given them has not been sufficient to enable them to win this, to win through.
“But when people talk about winning, there are these words that were important in the old Cold War days. We talked about detente, defend, deter, destroy.
“These words are important in terms of how you put together your militia campaign and when people talk about winning, what do they mean by that?
“What do they mean by defeating Russia as opposed to destroying Russia or pushing them out of the whole of Ukraine?
“This campaign will go on for months, I think.”