The FSB tried to dissuade Russian President Vladimir Putin from exchanging his godfather Viktor Medvedchuk for Azov defenders, The Washington Post reports , citing sources. Recall that as a result of the exchange , 215 Ukrainians, 55 Russians, Medvedchuk and 10 foreign citizens, including two Americans, were released.
According to an anonymous Ukrainian official, the FSB “was categorically opposed because they knew what this deal would look like to the public.” Andriy Yusov, spokesman for the Ukrainian Military Intelligence Directorate, said the deal was delayed several times during the two months of negotiations. “It was a complex operation that required synchrony and the simultaneous execution of several stages in different countries,” he said.
Under the terms of the agreement, Russia released five commanders who led the Ukrainian defense of the strategic port city of Mariupol. They cannot leave Turkey until the end of the war, but they are not imprisoned and can move freely around the country, the TWP publication says.
Other Ukrainian soldiers were exchanged on Ukraine's northern border with Russia, Yusov said, and 10 foreign nationals, including five Britons, two Americans, a Moroccan, a Croat and a Swede, were flown to Saudi Arabia before being sent home.
Mohammed bin Salman, the de facto leader of Saudi Arabia, who sent a team of personal security specialists and his plane to Russia to pick up the prisoners, played a major role in the deal, according to a senior Ukrainian official. In this way, he is trying to improve his position in the West after the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi agents, according to the American authorities. The Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich, acting as an intermediary, against whom the West imposed sanctions, is also achieving the same goals.
The exchange was sharply criticized by the head of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov, who expressed resentment that he had not been consulted. He called the exchange on Ukrainian terms wrong and unacceptable. According to him, due to the decision of the Ministry of Defense, the fighters who "liberated Mariupol" and are now on the front line, draw a conclusion and do not take prisoners. In conclusion, Kadyrov added that this is his personal opinion, which does not affect "the main unshakable principle of carrying out any orders of Vladimir Putin."