Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Wednesday that the date and venue of a possible meeting of Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is not yet settled and will be determined through diplomatic channels, the Russian TASS agency reported on Thursday.
On Wednesday evening Ankara announced that Erdoğan and Putin had agreed on a visit by the Russian president to Turkey.
Peskov said that while the leaders have confirmed their intention to meet, the specifics of when and where this meeting will take place have yet to be decided. The spokesman also mentioned that during a telephone call on Wednesday, the two presidents did not discuss Turkey’s recent decision to allow commanders of the Ukrainian Azov Regiment to return to Ukraine.
Hundreds of prisoners of war were released on in September in a surprise deal between Moscow and Kyiv, including 10 foreign nationals captured in Ukraine, a close friend of Russian President Putin’s and commanders and fighters of the Azov Regiment, a Ukrainian far-right paramilitary group.
As part of the prisoner swap, Moscow agreed to release the foreigners as well as 215 Ukrainians, including more than 100 members of Azov. In return, Ukraine said it released Viktor Medvedchuk and 55 Russian and pro-Russian fighters.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky previously said five commanders of the Azov Regiment, including Hero of Ukraine Denys Prokopenko, his deputy Sviatoslav Palamar and acting commander of the 36th separate brigade of marines Serhiy Volynsky, would stay in Turkey under the personal protection of President Erdoğan until the end of the war.
However, earlier in July, when Zelensky paid a visit to Turkey, he returned to Ukraine along with the commanders of the Azov Regiment.
The five commanders, lionized as heroes in Ukraine, led last year’s defense of the southern port of Mariupol, the biggest city Russia has captured in its invasion. Thousands of civilians were killed inside Mariupol when Russian forces laid the city to waste during a three-month siege.
Kremlin spokesman Peskov said at the time that Ankara had promised under the exchange agreement to keep the men in Turkey and complained that Moscow had not been informed of the move.