The commander of the Azov Regiment, Denis Prokopenko (Redis), who returned from Turkey to Ukraine on July 8, will again go to war. He stated this during a conversation with journalists in Lviv, he was quoted by Hromadske.
When asked if he would return to the front, Prokopenko replied: “Of course. To do this, we returned to Ukraine.”
He also thanked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who returned Prokopenko and four other Azov commanders from Turkey, where the servicemen were supposed to stay until the end of the war.
“Once again, I want to sincerely thank Mr. President, his team, the defense forces and every soldier who defended our mother, continued to fight the invaders at the front while we were in captivity. This is a very big contribution to our independence, to the struggle for our statehood, sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
He noted that the Ukrainians will continue the fight and will definitely "say their word in battle." According to Prokopenko, today the Ukrainian army has seized the strategic initiative on the front line, and is advancing every day.
On July 8, President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky announced the release of five military commanders who defended Azovstal in Mariupol - Denis Prokopenko, Svyatoslav Palamar, Sergei Volynsky, Oleg Khomenko and Denis Shlega. The President published a video in which he and the fighters fly home in an airplane. The servicemen were supposed to be under house arrest from September 2022 until the end of the war by agreement with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, but after Zelensky’s talks with Erdogan in Istanbul, the fighters nevertheless returned to Ukraine.
Press Secretary of the President of Russia Dmitry Peskov said that the return of prisoners from the Azov regiment is a violation of the terms of the existing agreements, and no one informed Russia. The pro-Russian Telegram channel "Rybar" suggested that Erdogan's actions may be related to Russia's impending withdrawal from "an extremely beneficial grain deal for him."
In May 2022, the Azov Regiment published photos of wounded Ukrainian soldiers blocked at the Azovstal plant in Mariupol. The fighters asked the UN and the Red Cross to organize an immediate evacuation of the wounded soldiers. On May 11, Pope Francis met in the Vatican with the wives of the fighters of the Azov regiment, Katerina Prokopenko and Yulia Fedosyuk, whose husbands were then at Azovstal. “Holy Father, our husbands are now on the territory of Azovstal in Mariupol. They have neither food nor water. Many wounded, many dead,” one of the Ukrainians addressed the Pope. The second woman then continued, “You are our last hope. We hope that you will be able to save their lives. Please don't let them die." The Pope replied that he would pray for their husbands. As a result, 2.5 thousand Ukrainian soldiers who defended Azovstal surrendered , more than a thousand of them were sent to Russia for investigation.
In September, Viktor Medvedchuk, the godfather of Russian President Vladimir Putin, was exchanged for 215 Ukrainian prisoners of war, including Denis Prokopenko, commander of the Azov Regiment. In addition to Prokopenko, deputy Svyatoslav Palamar "Kalina", the commander of the 36th Marine Brigade of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Sergey Volynsky "Volyn", as well as photographer and Azov fighter Dmitry Kozatsky were released. Also, propaganda Telegram channels reported that, in addition to Medvedchuk, 55 Russian military men and several pilots of the Aerospace Forces returned to the Russian Federation.