Senior Azov Battalion officers released in prisoner swap with Russia
Five commanders of the infamous neo-Nazi Azov regiment will remain in Turkey until the end of the conflict between Moscow and kyiv, Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky confirmed on Facebook on Thursday. All five were recently handed over by Russia as part of a major prisoner exchange with Ukraine.
“We agreed that the five released Azov commanders would stay in comfortable conditions in Turkey until the end of the war and could see their families,” he added. Zelensky said in a post. Earlier, he also said that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan offered them his protection.
On Thursday, Zelensky thanked the Turkish leader for his “main role” in mediating the prisoner exchange.
The five Azov commanders were captured by Russian forces and Donbass militias in the spring after the long siege of the Azovstal steelworks in the port city of Mariupol on the Sea of Azov.
Russia handed over the five commanders along with more than 200 Ukrainian soldiers, including more than 100 members of the Ukrainian Azov Battalion, whose ranks include fighters with openly nationalist and neo-Nazi views.
The exchange also involved ten foreign nationals who were captured while fighting alongside the Ukrainian army. British Prime Minister Liz Truss confirmed on Wednesday evening that five captured British nationals who had fought alongside Ukrainian troops had been released. Two of them had been convicted of war crimes by a court in the Donetsk People’s Republic and sentenced to death. The foreigners have already arrived in Saudi Arabia, which also acted as a mediator during the exchange.
kyiv released 55 Russian and Donbass soldiers in exchange, according to the Russian Defense Ministry. The prisoner swap was confirmed a day after Russian President Vladimir Putin declared a partial mobilization of reservists.