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Mouthpieces for Vladimir Putin’s regime has bemoaned that Russia was “cheated and betrayed” following Turkey’s decision.
Ankara decided to repatriate several Ukrainian commanders, who were part of the famous Azov battalion.
This broke with a deal brokered by Ankara that vowed to keep the Azov commanders in Turkey until the end of the Russian war in Ukraine.
President Putin was said to be furious by the betrayal on Saturday.
Many analysts claim it reveals an increasingly isolated Russia.
Kremlin’s official spokesman Dmitry Peskov claimed Moscow was “not notified” about the officers’ transfer to Ukraine.
He said: “The return of Azov commanders from Turkey to Ukraine is nothing but a direct violation of the terms of existing agreements.”
Mr Peskov added the return was linked to the “failure of the counter-offensive” launched by Ukraine.
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He suggested that NATO allies had put pressure on Ankara to release the men.
One Russian propagandist Mardan told his radio show: “We were cheated and betrayed.”
Other pro-Kremlin analysts said that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s decisions first to support Ukraine’s NATO bid and then to let the military commanders return to Ukraine were “an insult to Russia”.
Sergei Markov, a former Kremlin adviser, wrote on Telegram: “This shows clearly that Russia finds itself in a situation where violating agreements with Russia has become the norm.
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“This is because Russia does not respond out of humility or humanism.
“It needs to respond. Respond in such a way that will instill fear.”
On the other side, Ukraine’s leader Volodymyr Zelensky was jubilant at the Azoz commander’s return.
The five men – Denys Prokopenko, Serhiy Volynskiy, Sviatoslav Palamar, Denys Shleha, and Oleh Khomenko – were greeted at Istanbul airport by President Zelensky, who was on a visit to Turkey.
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He later wrote on social media: “We are returning home from Türkiye and bringing our heroes home.”
The five commanders have become Ukrainian heroes for their resistance within the Azovstal factory during the two-month siege of Mariupol.
They were eventually captured by Russian forces after the fall of Mariupol in May 2022.
During a later deal brokered by Turkey in September 2022, Kremlin got guarantees that all five commanders would remain in Turkey until the end of the war.
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