Ukrainians celebrate prisoner swap as Russian nationalists fume

Ukrainians have a good time prisoner swap as Russian nationalists fume

Ukrainian leaders celebrated the discharge of dozens of their troopers who led a last-ditch protection of town of Mariupol on the Azovstal steelworks 4 months in the past in an in a single day prisoner swap.

Kyiv gained the liberty of 215 of its workers in alternate for 55 Russian prisoners of warfare and Viktor Medvedchuk, a pro-Russian lawmaker and tycoon who was arrested this yr for treason. Medvedchuk is an in depth ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The Azov Battalion, whose ranks embrace self-proclaimed nationalists and non-ethnic Ukrainians, is the navy unit that fought Russian troops at a metal mill in a last-ditch try and defend the strategic port metropolis of Mariupol in southeastern Ukraine after months of heavy shelling.

“Lastly, we had been capable of return one other a part of the defenders of Mariupol, together with the fighters of the Azov regiment,” President Volodymyr Zelensky stated on Wednesday night. “Tonight, the alternate we have been ready for [for] so lengthy has taken place.

The prisoner swap is a lift for the Ukrainian chief who promised to safe the discharge of Azovstal defenders – hailed by many Ukrainians as heroes – after they lastly surrendered to Russian forces in Might after fierce resistance.

Nevertheless, the deal was awkwardly timed for Putin who hours earlier raised the stakes in his warfare on Ukraine by ordering a partial mobilization to bolster Russia’s weakened invasion drive. Moscow has repeatedly sought to justify its invasion of Ukraine, launched in February, by claiming it seeks to “denazify” the nation.

“The principle query for me is how the Kremlin managed to make an alternate and return ‘bloody Nazis’ the day it [Putin] introduced the mobilization to combat Nazism? wrote Oleksiy Arestovych, adviser to the Ukrainian presidential administration, on Twitter. “It was tough to think about such a blow to the motivation of the mobilized.”

The discharge of the Ukrainian commanders from Azov brought on outrage in Russian nationalist circles.

Igor Girkin, a former Russian intelligence agent turned vocal critic of the Kremlin’s dealing with of the warfare, denounced the timing of the alternate as “worse than a criminal offense, worse than a mistake, it is unimaginable stupidity”.

Margarita Simonyan, editor-in-chief of Russian information channel RT, lamented the shortage of ceremony for the return of Russian POWs and stated Moscow had ‘misplaced the knowledge battle’ over the prisoner alternate .

“Why had been the Azov commanders given? Right here I do not know. I hope it was value it,” Simonyan wrote on his Telegram channel.

Zelenskyy then thanked Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for serving to dealer the deal.

Beneath the settlement, 5 of the highest Ukrainian commanders from the Azovstal headquarters – who’ve often reported by way of social media on their resistance combat beneath appalling circumstances – will likely be required to stay in Turkey till the tip of the warfare.

Zelenskyy additionally thanked Saudi Arabia for its position in securing the discharge of 5 Britons, two Individuals, a Moroccan, a Swede and a Croat who had been combating for the Ukrainian military once they had been captured by the forces. Russians or fighters from territories occupied by Russia. .

Two of the Britons, Aiden Aslin and Shaun Pinner, together with a Moroccan named Brahim Saadoun, had been sentenced to loss of life by a courtroom in Russian-occupied territory in June for combating as “mercenaries”.

Zelenskyy defended the discharge of Medvedchuk, a pro-Kremlin opposition chief and tycoon whose Russian-language tv channels had been shut down final yr in a transfer that enraged the Kremlin.

Denis Pushilin, chief of the Moscow-controlled separatists in Donetsk, admitted he “understands the feelings” of individuals outraged that Russia is abandoning Azov fighters, however stated “the lives of our guys are an important,” in accordance with the Russian state. – heads the RIA Novosti information company.

Extra reporting by Max Seddon in Moscow and Roman Olearchyk in Kyiv


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