A often loyal ally of the president Vladimir Putin broke ranks by criticizing the Russian chief over a prisoner swap between Moscow and Kiev. Ramzan Kadyrov claimed that he and his colleagues have been significantly stunned by the information that about 100 fighters from Ukraine’s Azov regiment had been returned to Ukraine.
Putin’s protection ministry stated 55 of its navy personnel had been returned to Russia on Thursday as a part of the biggest prisoner alternate with Ukraine for the reason that warfare started on Feb. 24.
In its each day briefing, the ministry stated the fighters — from the Russian armed forces and its accomplices within the Russian-backed separatist areas of jap Ukraine — had been transported by navy airplane to Russia and present process medical check-ups.
The shock swap concerned almost 300 individuals, together with 10 foreigners and Ukrainian commanders who had led a prolonged protection of the port metropolis of Mariupol.
Through the early months of the warfare, Chechen troopers conscripted to help Russian troops in Mariupol clashed with Ukrainian Azov fighters.
The swap was brokered by Saudi Arabia and got here simply earlier than referendums in elements of Ukraine occupied by Russia.
These are prone to clean the wave for Russia to formally declare the annexation of extra elements of Ukraine after the annexation of Crimea in 2014.
In the meantime, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky praised the senior Ukrainian commanders launched by Russia as a part of the prisoner swap as superheroes.
Below the phrases of the deal Turkey helped dealer, 215 Ukrainians — most captured after the autumn of the port metropolis of Mariupol — have been launched on Wednesday.
Ten foreigners have been additionally launched after the mediation of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who has shut ties to Putin.
Amongst them was Brit Aiden Aslin who was sentenced to loss of life by a courtroom within the DPR.
Professional-Russian separatists final month stated Mariupol’s commanders would face fees.
Zelensky stated in his nightly video tackle, “5 superheroes have been traded for 55 of those that don’t deserve sympathy or pity.”
He welcomed the broader launch as “a victory for the nation”.
The 5 senior commanders who’ve been launched embody Lieutenant Colonel Denys Prokopenko and his deputy Svyatoslav Palamar, who’re each a part of the Azov battalion, which is taken into account lions in Ukraine.
Serhiy Volynsky, commander of the thirty sixth Marine Brigade, was additionally launched, who launched a video message in April displaying fighters holed up in bunkers underneath the large metal plant in Mariupol.
He stated on the time, “That is our name to the world. It could be our final. We might solely have just a few days or hours left.”
The 5 commanders will stay in Turkey till the top of the warfare. Mr Zelensky thanked Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan for his help after what he stated had been an extended and tough battle to safe their launch.
The Azov regiment is taunted by Putin’s Kremlin as a gang of Russia-hating neo-Nazis. The battalion denies allegations of fascism, Nazism and racism and says Ukrainians from completely different backgrounds serve in Azov, which is now absolutely built-in into the Ukrainian armed forces.
The three males had helped lead the weeks of resistance earlier than they and a whole lot of Azov fighters surrendered to Russian-backed forces in Could.
The seize of Mariupol by Russian forces was a strategic value for Moscow, though his forces had diminished the town to a wasteland after almost two months of siege and heavy bombing. It meant Putin had a secure overland route connecting the Crimean peninsula to mainland Russia and elements of jap Ukraine already in separatist palms.