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No to exchanges between Azov and the oligarchs. Zelensky thanks Draghi

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The exchange of prisoners and the resumption of negotiations. And if from the conclusion of the history of the Asovstal steel plant the course of negotiations between Ukraine And Russia? Could it be one of the bloodiest and most dramatic pages of this conflict that precedes the resumption of dialogue? Some signs from yesterday seem to say otherwise. The Russians, without much imagination, hastened to propagandize, posting pictures Azov soldiersAfter surrendering, they paraded half-naked to show each other’s tattoos with Nazi symbols.

Denis Pushlin, the leader of the pro-Russian Donetsk separatists, threatened: “The trial of the Ukrainian Azovstal fighters before a Russian court will be inevitable because the citizens demand it.” He called the Duma, the Federation parliament, to consider them terrorists, and the leaders of Azov were also brought into the city under Russian control. Thus, the hypothesis of a prisoner exchange, which was the basis of the agreement on the surrender of the last Mariupol fighters, was shattered. Even Zelensky, worried, said: “Negotiations will be resumed only if the Russians save the lives of the defenders of Mariupol. Without a prisoner exchange, there will be no negotiations.”


However, as the hours passed, after the respective publicity was released, the wind changed. Moscow, for example, began to talk about negotiations about the fate of Azov. “There is a possibility of an exchange with Viktor Medvedchuk,” the Russian negotiator who leads the Duma’s foreign affairs committee, Leonid Slutsky, said at a press conference in Donetsk. This is the pro-Russian Ukrainian oligarch who was arrested by Ukrainian intelligence a month ago. Then Slutsky himself tried to slow down in Telegram, stating that it was “a quote taken out of context.” “In any case, this will be decided in the appropriate forums by those who have the skills,” he added.

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According to the data of the Russians, who are probably larger in size to increase the risks but also to justify their inability to enter the steel mills for 86 days, more than 2,400 soldiers were captured in Mariupol. Under what conditions can the exchange take place? Will it also include the commanders of Azov, starting with the commander Denis Prokopenko? So far there are no specific terms, but it is clear that in these cases one does not deserve a single term. Medvedchuk, a friend of Putin’s oligarchs, is not equal to a single soldier from Mariupol. And for Prokopenko, the Russians will not be satisfied with one soldier. In the evening, Zelensky also used phrases that reveal room for maneuver: “Negotiations with Russia are possible, in which the set of conditions was respected and the lives of the defenders of Mariupol were preserved.”

The framework of the cease-fire agreement – which appeared before the break-up of the shopkeepers – also provides for a system of guarantees for states that protect Ukraine’s security. But Zelensky clarified in this regard: “We are considering establishing a circle of guarantors of our security among trusted partner countries. We are developing this project (peace agreement) with them. Something we like, something we don’t like. We Ukrainians want a lot, as Europeans they are very skeptical. In the middle we will find the answer. We want an international agreement approved by the parliaments of the guarantor countries. But without Russia. Boca has changed a few things. Time changes things.

Zelensky insisted on the need for rapid recognition of Ukraine as a candidate country to join the European Union. To sum up: the order to stop the hostilities that Kyiv sent last Friday to the last remaining soldiers in Azovstal led to the implementation of an agreement reached thanks to the mediation of other countries, according to which the Russians pledged to ensure the security of the surrendered soldiers. and carry out an exchange of prisoners, returning the Azov Islands to Ukraine (or handing them over to a third country). If this thorny and bumpy journey is completed, negotiations can resume. However, it would be difficult to assume that Putin, having taken Mariupol, could agree to part with Donbass. “But 700,000 soldiers are defending Ukraine,” Zelensky recalls, a way of saying that even the Russians should find a way out. The Mendoza online newspaper gave an interview to Rosyan Leviev, founder of the investigative journalist group Cit in Russia.

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“It is likely that the demonstration trials of the Azov prisoners and the Ukrainian marines who were in Azovstal will now likely be held,” Leviev explains, “but “in about a month and a half or two months, the Ukrainian side will launch a large-scale anti-prejudice.” Leviev argues that the Russians have an increasing proportion of refusing to go to Ukraine to fight. If this scenario is correct, it is also better to sit down at the negotiating table in Moscow. There is still a present of bombing, fighting, destruction, wounded and dead. every day. In the last few hours (Ukrainian source) Russian bombs have killed 13 in Lugansk. Twenty wounded in Izyum, near Kharkiv. A missile attack in Odessa destroyed an industrial complex. In general, the fighting in the Donbass continues unabated.

Mariupol, photo of the evacuation of civilians from the Azvostal steel plant


On the diplomatic front, Moscow has released a new list of 963 Americans who are banned from traveling to Russia. These range from Biden to Morgan Freeman, from Kamala Harris to CIA chief William Burns, and from Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook’s father) to former presidential candidate John McCain (but unlikely to try to go to Moscow since his death in 2018). There is no Trump on the list. At the heart of yesterday’s accession of Sweden and Finland to NATO are new developments. Outlining the risks, Turkish President Erdogan, in a telephone conversation with Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson, reiterated “concerns about the activities of terrorist groups from the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, the People’s Protection Units and the VETO in Sweden: a candidate country for NATO must put an end to its financial and political support.” A similar speech with Finnish President Niinistö, and later Erdogan explained to NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg: “Turkey will not take a positive attitude towards the accession of Sweden and Finland until the solidarity of these two countries appears.”

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