The commanders of the “Azov” regiment were released, but must remain in Turkey until the end of the war

Ukraine announced on Wednesday evening that it had exchanged prisoners with Russia.

Ukraine has recaptured a record number of 215 prisoners, including soldiers who led the defense of the Azovstal metallurgical plant in Mariupol, which has become a symbol of Ukrainian resistance.

Ukrainian forces refused to surrender at the Azovstal plant for a long time despite being short on ammunition and supplies and outnumbered by Russian troops, earning praise across the country for their display of heroism.

V. Zelenskis: it is not a pity to hand over V. Medvedchuk

55 prisoners, including Viktor Medvedchuk, a former Ukrainian lawmaker and ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, have been handed over to Russia on charges of treason, Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelensky said in his daily address.

Earlier, Russia said that it was not interested in the exchange of V. Medvedchuk, because he is not a Russian citizen.

Back in April of this year, V. Zelensky in his speech proposed to exchange V. Medvedchuk for Ukrainians who were captured. V. Medvedchuk himself made a similar request to V. Zelensky and V. Putin in a video message recorded by the Security Service of Ukraine. Russian presidential press secretary Dmitry Peskov replied that “there can be no question about it.”

In May, when the Russian army managed to capture the Azovstal factory after three months of fighting, Leonidas Sluckis, leader of the LDPR and head of the Duma’s International Affairs Committee, stated that Moscow would “examine the issue” of a possible exchange of D. Medvedchiuk for Azov fighters. However, the Kremlin reiterated that such a possibility is not under consideration.

“We have already said that Medvedchuk is a citizen of Ukraine and he is not a military man. “In the case of the people who surrendered to Azovstal, we are talking about military personnel and members of nationalist groups, so these are completely different categories of people, so we can hardly talk about any exchange,” said D. Peskov at the time.

However, it turned out that such an exchange is possible.

“We exchanged one Russian fan for 200 soldiers. Initially, we were offered to return 50 of our people in exchange for one of those who were in the detention center of the Security Service of Ukraine. We talked, we insisted – the number of 50 people grew to 200…

It is not a pity to give Medvedchuk for real soldiers. “All the investigative actions provided for in legal acts have been carried out with him, and Ukraine has received from him everything that is needed to establish the truth in the criminal process,” V. Zelenskis said.

Photo published by the security services of Ukraine./Viktor Medvedchuk

It was the biggest exchange between Kyiv and Moscow since the Russian invasion began in February.

Earlier on Wednesday, 10 prisoners of war from countries including the United States and the United Kingdom were handed over to Saudi Arabia as part of a Moscow-Kyiv exchange, V. Zelensky said.

“We managed to free 215 people,” Andrijus Yermaks, the head of the administration of the President of Ukraine, announced on television.

A video clip was shown in which D. Prokopenka and other freed soldiers communicated with V. Zelenskius via video link.

“Everything is fine with us, our health is satisfactory, thanks to you and the whole team for what you have done,” said D. Prokopenka.

Photo of the Security Service of Ukraine/Exchange of prisoners

He will stay in Turkey until the end of the war

V. Zelensky said that five military commanders, including Azovstal defense leaders, were taken to Turkey in a pre-planned operation coordinated with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

V. Zelenski added that the freed will remain in Turkey “in complete safety and comfortable conditions” until the end of the war. They were given personal security guarantees by the President of Turkey. Such conditions were offered to Russia from the beginning, when the defenders of Azovstal were surrounded, but did not surrender.

Ukrainian army photo/Volodymyr Zelenskyi and Andriy Yermak watching the exchange of prisoners

Ukrainian army photo/Volodymyr Zelenskyi and Andriy Yermak watching the exchange of prisoners

“In addition to 200 soldiers, we recovered five more warlords, for whom we had to fight the most, the longest, the most difficult. They faced the greatest threat. Five superheroes,” said V. Zelenskis.

“I think we could have traded Medvedchuk for one of our Azov heroes, but the fact that we got so much is a reason for the whole country to drink,” commented V. Zelensky.

Ukrainian army photo/Sviatoslav Palamar

Ukrainian army photo/Sviatoslav Palamar “Kalyna”

It is reported that the commander of the Azov regiment Denys Prokopenko, his deputy Sviatoslav Palamar “Kalyna”, Azov senior officer Oleh Khomenko, commander of the 36th separate marine brigade Serhiy Volynskyi “Volyn” and the 12th brigade of the National Guard of Ukraine are in question. commander Denys Šleh.

Photo of the Security Service of Ukraine/Exchange of prisoners: Kateryna Polishchiuk

Photo of the Security Service of Ukraine/Exchange of prisoners: Kateryna Polishchiuk

Together with them, Kateryna Poliščiuk nicknamed Paukštelis and Azov regiment press representative and photographer Dmytro Kozackis nicknamed Orestas, whose photos from the dungeons of Azovstal went around the world, were also freed.

The Office of the President of Ukraine announced that among the released Ukrainians are three defenders of Mariupol – Marjana Mamonova, Jana Šumovecka and Anastasyja Chernenka. They were captured while pregnant.

It could be a serious blow to Putin

This exchange can be a serious blow to V. Putin, because until now the biggest supporters of the Russian war could not even think that D. Prokopenka would be exchanged. Most of the surrendered Azov soldiers were held in the Russian-controlled territory of the Donetsk region.

Some of them returned earlier after the exchange, but about 50 soldiers were killed in an explosion in the city of Olenivka in the Donetsk region, where they were kept in the premises of a convict colony. Russia tried to accuse Ukraine of shelling the colony, but investigations by journalists from international media showed that the explosion took place inside the building. Ukraine claimed that this explosion was organized by Russia.

Screenshot from

Screenshot from “Telegram”/ Half a day later, smoke was still billowing from the scene of the tragedy

According to reports, D. Prokopenka and other Azov commanders were taken to Moscow. The Russian media publicly demanded their trial. In the separatist republics, there were public preparations for the Azov Military Tribunal.

Russian propaganda constantly portrayed the soldiers of the Azov regiment as the biggest Nazis and accused them of killing civilians in Donbas, this organization is declared a terrorist in Russia, so their release in the country may be received ambiguously, especially after V. Zelensky stated that the commanders of Azov and the soldiers were exchanged for V. Medvedchuk, a Ukrainian oligarch and politician associated with V. Putin, whose exchange was previously publicly rejected by V. Putin’s representative Dmitry Peskov.

In May, after the surrender of the Ukrainian military from Azovstal, Russian State Duma Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin said that captured war criminals should not be exchanged, they should be tried. “Nazi criminals should not be replaced. They are war criminals, we must do everything to bring them to justice,” said V. Volodin. This was also claimed by propagandists, including Vladimir Solovyov.

According to The New York Times, the swap is a major victory for Zelensky, who has promised to bring home all prisoners of war. The newspaper believes that the return of the officers who led the defense of Azovstal is likely to further strengthen the fighting spirit of the Ukrainian army.

The pro-government Russian media reports about this exchange very modestly, mentions that Ukraine handed over V. Medvedchuk, but does not even mention that “Azov” soldiers, especially commanders, were returned to Ukraine for him.

Foreigners who have been sentenced to death have been taken to Saudi Arabia

Five UK nationals, two Americans and one each from Morocco, Sweden and Croatia have been transferred to the kingdom, according to a Saudi official briefed on the operation.

A Riyadh statement said they had arrived in the kingdom from Russia and that Saudi authorities were “facilitating procedures for their safe return to their countries”.

Photo of the Security Service of Ukraine/Exchange of prisoners of war

Photo of the Security Service of Ukraine/Exchange of prisoners of war

UK Prime Minister Liz Truss said on Twitter that the release of the Britons was “very welcome news… ending months of uncertainty and suffering for them and their families”.

L.Truss said that they were “held in eastern Ukraine by Russian-backed minions”, and thanked V.Zelensky and Saudi Arabia for their help in freeing them.

Photo of the Security Service of Ukraine/Exchange of prisoners

Photo of the Security Service of Ukraine/Exchange of prisoners

UK MP Robert Jenrick identified one of the released Britons as Aiden Aslin from his constituency in a tweet. The man, captured by pro-Russian separatists, was sentenced to death in June as a suspected mercenary.

According to R. Jenrick, the freed Britons are “already returning to the UK” and that A. Aslin’s family “can finally be at peace”.

At the time, the White House thanked V. Zelensky and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for facilitating the exchange.

“We hope our citizens will return to their families,” US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said in a tweet.

According to an official at the Moroccan embassy in Riyadh, the detained Moroccan is Brahim Saadoun, who was also condemned in June by the self-proclaimed “people’s republic” of Donetsk.

Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde tweeted that the Swedish national, who was also detained in Donetsk, “has now been released and is healthy”. She also thanked Ukraine and Saudi Arabia.

Croatia’s foreign ministry said the exchange had freed Croatian Vjekoslav Prebeg, who had been detained in April, and thanked Kyiv and Riyadh. The ministry added that he will return home on Thursday.

Photo of the Security Service of Ukraine/Exchange of prisoners of war

Photo of the Security Service of Ukraine/Exchange of prisoners of war

The exchange came as bin Salman, Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler, “continues (his) commitment to humanitarian initiatives related to the Russia-Ukraine crisis,” Riyadh said in a statement.

In a video broadcast by the official Saudi news agency, the 10 prisoners of war are seen disembarking from a plane in Riyadh by Saudi officials before being escorted to a room where they speak with diplomats from their embassies.


The article is in Lithuanian

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