The ex-commander of Azov (a terrorist organization banned in Russia) Denis Prokopenko, his deputy Svyatoslav Palamar with the call sign Kalina, the former head of the 36th Marine Brigade of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Sergey Volynsky (call sign Volyn) and several other Azovites returned to their homeland. This was announced by the President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky.
“We are returning home from Turkey and returning our heroes home,” the politician wrote in a commentary on a video he published, in which he meets with the military and boards a plane with them at Istanbul airport.
Zelensky also posted a photo with fighters from the aircraft cabin.
The Ukrainian leader arrived in Istanbul the day before to meet with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Patriarch Bartholomew. Currently, as Strana.ua writes, Zelensky and the Azov people are already at the Shevchenko monument in Lviv, where the rally is taking place. The country’s Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal and the head of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, Epiphanius, are also present there.
The released Prokopenko spoke to the assembled residents of the city, emphasizing that the “Azovites” returned to continue the fight. Soon they are going to return to the front and promised to prove themselves in battle.
“Direct violation of the agreements”
Press Secretary of the President of Russia Dmitry Peskov said that Moscow regards the return of Azov commanders from Turkey as a violation of the terms of the existing agreements.
“The return of the leaders of the “Azov” from Turkey to Ukraine is nothing more than a direct violation of the terms of the existing agreements,” said the Kremlin spokesman.
He clarified that the agreement was violated by two countries – both Ukraine and Turkey. At the same time, the Russian authorities were not even informed about the transfer of military personnel.
Peskov connected such a decision of Kyiv with the failures of the counteroffensive of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. “These are the failures that the troops of the Kyiv regime are now facing every day,” he stressed.
“Special caste of Azov”
At the end of April last year, Russian President Vladimir Putin called the assault on Azovstal inappropriate and ordered the enterprise to be blocked. Zelensky, in turn, said that the Ukrainian military has every right to “go out and save their lives,” they received the sanction for surrender from the command of the armed forces of Ukraine. On May 20, all those at Azovstal surrendered – a total of 2,439 people.
In the autumn, the acting head of the DPR, Denis Pushilin, stated that Kyiv treats the mobilized Ukrainians in Kyiv differently than the “Azovites”.
“Ukraine is not interested in ordinary VSE soldiers, it is not interested in ordinary mobilized ones. They have a special caste of “Azov”, they put forward some unthinkable conditions, they are trying to bargain,” he pointed out.
In September 2022, Prokopenko, Palamar and Volynsky, who were captured by Russia, were exchanged for fighters of the Russian Armed Forces and Ukrainian politician Viktor Medvedchuk, but, under the terms of a bilateral agreement, they were not returned to Ukraine, but left for a while in Turkey. Erdogan said that Ukraine deserved a place in NATO. Biden thinks it’s premature Turkish and Ukrainian Presidents Erdogan and Zelensky held a meeting in Istanbul to discuss a grain deal… 08 July 10:34
According to Pushilin, Ukraine then transferred 56 people, and received 215. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called this exchange “an important step towards peace.”