5 Ukrainian commanders of the Azov Regiment, extolled in Ukraine for protecting the port town of Mariupol remaining 12 months all the way through an 80-day Russian siege earlier than they surrendered as prisoners of warfare, had been given a heroes’ welcome after returning house.
The lads gave the impression with President Volodymyr Zelensky earlier than crowds overdue Saturday within the western town of Lviv after returning to Ukraine from Turkey, the place they’d been held since September underneath the phrases of a prisoner alternate with Russia. Denys Prokopenko, some of the commanders who was once returned, stated that the freed warring parties would rejoin the entrance strains, in keeping with a video posted on Twitter by way of native information media.
“We can unquestionably have our say in struggle,” Mr. Prokopenko informed journalists in Lviv. Requested whether or not he would battle at the entrance strains, he responded, “This is the reason we returned to Ukraine.”
Moscow reacted angrily to the inside track that the Azov warring parties had returned to Ukraine. The Kremlin’s spokesman, Dmitri S. Peskov, accused Turkey of breaking an settlement to stay the boys on its territory till the top of the warfare. There was once no speedy remark from the Turkish government. The federal government in Kyiv didn’t be offering a public clarification for a way or why the warring parties got here to be returned house.
Mr. Peskov claimed that the verdict was once tied to what he stated was once Ukraine’s failure in a counteroffensive that started remaining month.
Ukraine claims it’s making small however stable good points in its grueling marketing campaign to reclaim territory within the south and east of the rustic. However Mr. Peskov stated that Turkey have been put underneath force by way of fellow NATO contributors to permit the Ukrainians to go back house to distract consideration from the faltering effort to regain territory. He presented no proof for his claims.
Russian forces diminished Mariupol to rubble earlier than shooting it, however the Azov warring parties then held out for weeks within the town’s massive Azovstal metal works, dwelling in underground bunkers underneath relentless bombardment.
They surrendered on Might 20 underneath orders from the federal government in Kyiv. Nonetheless, their resistance made them an emblem of the rustic’s army defiance and lots of Ukrainians noticed their go back as an pressing nationwide precedence. Mr. Zelensky has again and again pledged to protected the discharge of all Ukrainian prisoners of warfare.
The Azov warring parties are reviled in Russia, and the Kremlin propaganda gadget has lengthy sought to make use of the far-right origins in their regiment as evidence of its false declare that the Ukrainian state has been infested with Nazism.
The lads have been in Turkey underneath a deal introduced in September, underneath which 215 Ukrainian prisoners of warfare have been launched in alternate for the discharge of Viktor Medvedchuk, a rich Ukrainian businessman and shut pal of President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, and 54 different Russian prisoners of warfare. It was once no longer transparent what number of contributors of the Azov battalion stay imprisoned.
Mr. Zelensky visited Ankara on Friday and Saturday for talks with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey forward of a big NATO summit in Lithuania that starts Tuesday, at which Ukraine’s fledgling software for club of the alliance can be prime at the time table. Turkey has adversarial Russia’s invasion, and Mr. Erdogan has expressed reinforce for Ukraine’s software for club in NATO, however he has additionally sought to handle a detailed courting with Mr. Putin.
Ukraine’s bid has been a thorny factor for the alliance, with some contributors urgent for quicker motion than others. In an interview with CNN’s Fareed Zakaria aired on Sunday, President Biden stated that it was once “untimely” to start the method to permit Ukraine to sign up for whilst preventing persevered.
Ukrainian officers stated on Sunday that no choice have been made about whether or not Mr. Zelensky would attend the summit in particular person, even supposing NATO’s secretary normal, Jens Stoltenberg, stated on Friday that Mr. Zelensky would take part within the first assembly of a brand new NATO-Ukraine Council.
The Azov warring parties returned house on the five hundredth day since Russia introduced its full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Many Ukrainians view that date each as a second to mirror at the demise and destruction that the rustic has confronted, but additionally as the beginning of a brand new section of heroic resistance to Moscow.
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In a recorded interview with ABC’s “This Week,” Mr. Zelensky stated that Mr. Putin could be “pressured to hunt discussion with the civilized global” if Ukraine’s counteroffensive effectively complicated to the occupied Crimean peninsula. However he reiterated that he would no longer conform to any peace deal that palms territory over to Russia.
Mr. Zelensky stated within the ABC interview that he needed the counteroffensive have been shifting quicker. In an replace on Sunday night time, the Common Personnel of the Ukrainian Armed Forces reported heavy preventing in japanese Ukraine, together with across the ruined town of Bakhmut, the place Gen. Oleksandr Syrsky, the commander of Ukraine’s floor forces, stated in a Telegram submit that Kyiv’s troops have been making growth.
President Andrzej Duda of Poland met with Mr. Zelensky on Sunday all the way through a consult with to the western Ukrainian town of Lutsk, the place they attended a church provider to mark the anniversary of massacres of Poles by way of Ukrainian nationalists all the way through International Conflict II. Poland, every other NATO member, is one in every of Ukraine’s staunchest supporters.
The demise toll from Russian shelling of Lyman, a town within the Donetsk area, on Saturday rose to 9, Pavlo Kyrylenko, the Ukrainian regional governor, wrote on Telegram. Some other civilian was once additionally killed on Saturday within the the city of Avdiivka, he stated.
Ukraine perceived to verify that its forces have been in the back of an explosion in October that destroyed a part of the Kerch Strait Bridge linking Russia and the Crimean Peninsula, one of the vital impressive moves in opposition to Moscow’s pursuits for the reason that full-scale invasion started.
Whilst Ukrainians celebrated the assault at the bridge as an embarrassment for Mr. Putin, who had taken private satisfaction in its building, the federal government in Kyiv had no longer formally claimed it. However on Saturday, Ukraine’s deputy protection minister Hanna Malyar indexed the explosion as some of the nation’s achievements within the 500 days since Russia’s full-scale invasion started. Responding to the submit, Maria Zakharova, a spokeswoman for the Russian Overseas Ministry, stated the federal government in Kyiv was once a “terrorist regime.”
Paul Sonne contributed reporting.