Erdogan handed over captured Azov fighters to Ukraine despite agreement with Putin

The trip of the President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky to the President of Turkey Recep Erdogan unexpectedly ended with the return of captured Azov fighters. This is stated in the official Telegram channel of Zelensky’s office.

The agreement on the exchange of prisoners with Russia assumed that the five commanders of Azov were to remain in Turkey until the end of hostilities under the personal patronage of Erdogan. However, all of them returned to Ukraine after Zelensky’s visit.

The commander Denys Prokopenko, his deputy Svyatoslav Palamar, as well as Oleh Khomenko, Serhiy Volynsky and Denys Shlega were released.

The agreement to keep Azov commanders in Turkey was signed as part of the exchange of 55 Russian prisoners of war and Ukrainian citizen Viktor Medvedchuk for 215 Ukrainian fighters on September 21, 2022.

After meeting with Zelensky during a joint press conference, Erdogan said that “Russian President” Vladimir Putin will fly to Turkey in August. The two heads of state will discuss the extension of the grain deal.

“Mr. Putin will visit Turkey next month. And we will again have an opportunity to discuss this topic in a one-on-one format. I will also continue to maintain telephone talks with him in the coming period”, Erdogan said.

Moscow had earlier threatened not to extend the agreement on grain exports from Ukrainian ports after July 17. Russian officials claimed that the promises made to the country under the terms of the grain deal were not being fulfilled.

Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov confirmed that Putin may meet with Erdogan. “Contacts are possible. There are no exact dates yet”, the Kremlin spokesman said.

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