Azov Commanders Freed
Five Ukrainian commanders of the Azov battalion, the unit that became a symbol of Ukraine's military defiance after a two-month siege of the Azovstal plant in Mariupol in May 2022, were freed from custody in Turkey Sunday. The exchange came days before a NATO summit in Lithuania, where analysts expect Ukraine's ambition to join the alliance will top the agenda.
The release reportedly defied a September agreement between Ukraine, Russia, and Turkey, which saw over 200 Ukrainian soldiers—including the Azov leaders—transferred for the war's remainder from Russia to Turkey in exchange for Ukraine's release of dozens of Russian prisoners. Russia claims Sunday's exchange occurred without Russia's input; observers speculate the decision from Turkey, who has supported Ukraine while retaining close ties with Moscow, is an attempt at signaling support to Ukraine ahead of this week's summit.
The move came as Ukraine recognized the 500th day of the conflict, with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy sharing a video from the Black Sea's Snake Island.