Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky returned to Ukraine on Saturday with five former Azov battalion commanders who fought in the Battle of Mariupol. The Kremlin accused Turkey of violating the prisoner exchange agreement signed last year.
“We will come home from Türkiye and bring our heroes home,” Zelensky said books on social media. “Ukrainian soldiers Denis Prokopenko, Svyatoslav Palamar, Serhiy Volynsky, Oleh Khomenko and Denis Schliha. They will finally be with their relatives.”
The Ukrainian president hugged the soldiers at Istanbul airport and took them home with him.
Immediately after the news of the release, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that Russia had not been informed and that Turkey had promised to keep the former prisoners on its territory.
Peskov said the move “contradicts the terms of existing agreements.” He said, “The Turkish and Kiev sides have violated the terms of return.”
Nobody told us this. According to the terms of the agreement, these people were supposed to remain on the territory of Turkey until the end of the conflict.
Peskov claimed that NATO pressured Turkey to breach the agreement to show solidarity with the alliance ahead of a NATO summit this week in Vilnius.
Pro-Kremlin Russian analysts have claimed that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s decisions first to support Ukraine’s bid for NATO and then to allow military leaders to return to Ukraine were an “insult to Russia”.
“This clearly shows that Russia finds itself in a situation where violation of agreements with Russia has become the norm,” wrote Sergei Markov, a former Kremlin adviser. on Telegram. Because Russia is not responding. Out of humility or humanity. He needs to respond. “He responded in a way that would instill fear,” Markov said.
Veronika Melkozerova contributed to this report.
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