The Russian Federal Security Service strongly opposed the prisoner-of-war exchange, which included the return of Mariupol’s defense chiefs to Ukraine, the Washington Post alleged, citing Ukrainian and US interlocutors. According to the newspaper, the approval was obtained by President Vladimir Putin himself, who wanted the release of the pro-Kremlin oligarch Viktor Medvedchuk.
The exchange of nearly 300 prisoners on September 21 was the largest such operation since the beginning of the war. I hugged 215 Ukrainian military, plus 10 foreignerswho fought on the side Ukraine. The authorities in Kyiv released 55 Russian soldiers and pro-Russian politician Viktor Medvedchuk on charges of treason.
Putin did not listen to the FSB
According to Washington Post sources, the objections of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) were raised not only by the fact that more Ukrainians were liberated than the Russians, but also by the fact that among them were 108 soldiers from the Azov Regiment, demonized by Russian propaganda.
The FSB was totally against him. A Ukrainian official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said they were aware of the consequences of this agreement in the public eye.
According to a source in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs United States of America The release of Medvedchuk showed how much Putin had paid to protect his “man” who had pursued the interests of the Kremlin for years. – In Ukraine, the return of the brave soldiers to their homes was celebrated, while in Moscow the decision was vilified and showed what Putin really cares about – said the official.
Pro-Kremlin activists: It was worse than a crime
Pro-Kremlin “internet activists” have expressed outrage at the exchange, among others. One of them was the former leader of pro-Russian separatists in Donbass Igor Girkin commented that the release of the Azov forces was “worse than crime”, “worse than wrong” and “completely stupid”.
This came at a time when Putin faced internal pressure after declaring a mandatory “partial mobilization” for war with Ukraine. On the other hand, the failure of the Russian army in this war provoked the strategic wisdom of Putin, who was previously considered skillful and cunning, albeit ruthless, the Washington Post reported.
They were arrested after the fall of Mariupol’s defense
Azov soldiers found themselves in Russian captivity In May, after the defense of Mariupol fell for several months. The authorities in Moscow called them terrorists and announced “trials” against them. The American newspaper reported that the release of these soldiers was particularly difficult for Russian nationalists to swallow.
As part of the agreement, Russia released five leaders of the defense of Mariupol, who had become symbols of the national resistance in Ukraine. Until the end of the war, they were not allowed to leave Turkey, but they were free there and were free to move around the country.
The remaining Ukrainian prisoners of war were released on the Ukrainian-Russian border. Ten foreigners released by Russia were sent to Saudi Arabia, and from there they returned to their countries. “Among them are five British, two Americans, a Moroccan, a Croat and a Swede,” Andrey Yusov, a representative of Ukraine’s military intelligence, said.
According to him, the prisoner exchange was postponed several times, and the negotiations lasted two months. “It was a complex process that required synchronization and simultaneous phases in different countries,” Yusuf said.
Salman and Erdogan
A role in the exchange was played by, among other things, the de facto leader of Saudi Arabia, Prince Mohammed bin Salman and the president of Turkey. Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The mediator who broke the news between Kyiv and Moscow was the Russian oligarchy under EU sanctions Roman AbramovichWhich, according to Washington Post sources, wanted to improve its position in the West in this way.
On the other hand, a high-ranking Ukrainian official said that the Saudi prince sent his personal security apparatus and a plane to Russia to bring the released prisoners. According to this source, bin Salman, like Abramovich, was motivated by a desire to improve his reputation in the West after the murder of journalist Jamal Khashji by Saudi agents in 2018.
– He is interested in changing his reputation. The official said he offered planes and hotels to play a positive hero against the United States.
Main image source: Security service in Ukraine
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