Russia accuses Ukraine and Turkey of flouting prisoner exchange deal

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Moscow has accused Kyiv and Ankara of violating the phrases of a high-profile prisoner change after President Volodymyr Zelenskyy returned dwelling from a go to to Turkey with a bunch of Ukrainian commanders.

The commanders had led the defence of the bombed-out metropolis of Mariupol earlier than they had been pressured to give up final spring on the finish of a bloody siege. They had been transferred to Turkey in September in a prisoner swap between Ukraine and Russia.

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov on Sunday blasted Ankara for breaking a key promise to maintain the boys in Turkey till the tip of Russia’s battle in Ukraine.

“Nobody knowledgeable us about this,” Peskov was quoted as saying by the state-run RIA information company.

Neither Zelenskyy nor Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who met on Friday, gave explanations for the Ukrainians’ launch.

Zelenskyy posted a video displaying himself hugging the commanders earlier than flying dwelling to Ukraine. “We’re returning dwelling from Turkey and bringing our heroes dwelling,” he mentioned.

The return of the troopers — who held out for weeks on the Azovstal metal works in Mariupol — was a symbolic victory for Kyiv approaching the five hundredth day of Russia’s full-scale invasion.

The Ukrainian president additionally marked the event on Saturday with a submit on Telegram displaying him on a go to to Snake Island. The rock within the Black Sea turned a logo of Ukrainian resistance earlier final yr when a border guard on the outpost scornfully defied a Russian order to give up.

The occasions capped a busy week for Zelenskyy, who wrapped a collection of high-profile overseas visits to EU nations forward of the Nato summit on July 11-12, the place members are anticipated to debate Ukraine’s progress in direction of membership of the army alliance. Turkey’s launch of the Ukrainian commanders is more likely to please Nato allies involved about Erdoğan’s cordial relations with the Kremlin.

1000’s of Ukrainians had been killed throughout Russia’s bloody siege of Mariupol, a once-vibrant port metropolis with a prewar inhabitants of almost 500,000 residents.

The commanders hail from Ukraine’s Azov regiment and marine forces and embody Denys Prokopenko, Svyatoslav Palamar, Serhiy Volynskyi, Oleh Khomenko and Denys Shlega.

The troopers led the defence of the south-eastern port metropolis throughout Russia’s 80-day siege. From a community of tunnels and bunkers beneath Mariupol’s Azovstal metal manufacturing unit, the group commanded lots of of troops. Their fierce resistance made them nationwide heroes and earned them prime state awards. Nevertheless it additionally made them worthwhile prisoners for the Kremlin, who falsely deemed them “Nazis” and needed them to stay off of the battlefield till the tip of the battle.

In western Lviv on Saturday, the group was met with a welcome match for heroes, as relations and lots of of supporters embraced and cheered them on.

“Right this moment, we stand united, and we’ll proceed the struggle,” Prokopenko advised the group. “We’ll undoubtedly have our say within the battle.”

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