Moscow unhappy with the return to Ukraine of the commanders of the Azov regiment
The Kremlin castigated, on Saturday, the repatriation, by Volodymyr Zelensky, of several Ukrainian commanders who were, thanks to an agreement between Moscow and Kiev, to remain in Turkey until the end of the conflict.
The Ukrainian presidency has confirmed that it has obtained the return of these members of the Azov regiment, hated in Russia, at the end of “negotiations with the Turkish side”. They were met at Istanbul airport by President Volodymyr Zelensky, who was on a visit to Turkey.
“The return of Azov commanders from Turkey to Ukraine is nothing but a direct violation of the terms of existing agreements”, lambasted Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, quoted by Russian news agencies. According to him, both Ukraine and Turkey violated the terms of this agreement which provided for these men to remain in Turkey until the end of the conflict.
Mr. Peskov linked this return to “the failure of the counter-offensive” Ukrainian campaign conducted since the beginning of June and Ankara’s desire to show its “solidarity” before the NATO summit in Vilnius on 11 and 12 July. “Preparations for the NATO summit are underway and, of course, there has been a lot of pressure on Turkey”did he declare.
Part of the Ukrainian army’s Azov regiment, formed on the basis of the ultranationalist battalion of the same name, was captured by Russian forces after the fall of Mariupol in May 2022. Celebrated as heroes in Ukraine for resisting, entrenching the Within the Azovstal factory, during the siege of Mariupol, the Azov fighters were reviled in Russia for their links with Ukrainian ultranationalist circles.
Ukraine had announced, at the end of September, the exchange with Russia of 215 soldiers, including chiefs of defense of the Azovstal steelworks.
Five military commanders, “superheroes”, according to Mr. Zelensky, had been transferred to Türkiye. They had to stay there “in absolute safety and in comfortable conditions” up” At the end of the war “according to an agreement with Mr. Erdogan.