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Erdogan Offered to Personally Discuss With Putin the Return of Azov Commanders

The Turkish president intends to discuss with his Russian counterpart the return of five Azov commanders from Turkey to Ukraine if Putin visits Ankara in August. Moscow called Turkey’s decision a violation of agreements

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he intends to personally discuss with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin the return of the commanders of the Azov battalion (recognized as terrorist and banned in Russia) from Turkey to Ukraine if he visits the country in August. He said this at a press conference following the NATO summit in Vilnius, his speech was broadcast on the Facebook social network (owned by Meta, recognized as extremist and banned in Russia).

“We received a request for the release of their six commanders. We have decided to give a positive answer. After that, a number of statements were made in Russia, but after they learned the details, the situation became positive. In August, President Putin will visit Turkey, and I think that we will have the opportunity to discuss these issues with him again in a tête-à-tête format,” Erdogan said after the summit (quoted by TASS ) .

At the request of journalists to reveal the details of the return of the “Azov”, the Turkish leader replied: “Ukraine took these commanders and took them to Ukraine. Everything else depends on them.”

Erdogan said last week that Turkey was expecting Putin to visit in August to discuss a grain deal. He also said that before that he was going to touch upon the exchange of prisoners of war during a telephone conversation with Putin. In response, the Kremlin stated that the date of the head of state’s trip to the republic is still unknown, and there is no conversation with his Turkish counterpart in his schedule yet.

On July 8, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, after a visit to Turkey , announced that the commander of Azov, Denis Prokopenko, had returned home, acting. Commander of the 36th Separate Marine Brigade Sergey Volynsky, Deputy Commander Svyatoslav Palamar, Major of the National Guard Oleg Khomenko and Colonel of the National Guard Denis Shlega.

The five Azov commanders were handed over to Turkey after a prisoner exchange last fall. Kyiv then received 215 people, and Russia – 55 soldiers, as well as the Ukrainian politician Viktor Medvedchuk. The Azov fighters were supposed to stay in the republic until the end of hostilities “under the personal guarantees of the Turkish president.”

The Kremlin called the incident a violation of the agreements by both Kiev and Ankara. According to presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov, Moscow was not informed of this decision. The Russian side understands that Ankara is showing solidarity with NATO as a member of the alliance and that it was under pressure in the run-up to the bloc’s summit, he said. The Foreign Ministry warned that Ankara’s actions could only lead to negative consequences.

Source : RBC