Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy returned to Ukraine on Saturday bringing home with him five former Azov battalion commanders who had fought in the battle over Mariupol. The Kremlin accused Turkey of violating the prisoner-exchange agreement that was signed last year.
“We are returning home from Türkiye and bringing our heroes home,” Zelenskyy wrote on social media. “Ukrainian soldiers Denys Prokopenko, Svyatoslav Palamar, Serhiy Volynsky, Oleh Khomenko and Denys Shleha. They will finally be with their relatives.”
The Ukrainian president hugged the servicemen at the Istanbul airport and flew them home with him.
Upon news of the release, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russia had not been informed and that Turkey had promised to keep the former prisoners on its home soil.
The move “goes against the terms of existing agreements,”Peskov said. “The conditions of return were violated by both the Turkish and Kyiv sides.”