A lot of uncertainty and questions are surrounding the prisoner exchange between Russia and Ukraine that took place on September 22. On that day, 55 Russian prisoners of war (POWs) came back to Russia, while Ukraine received 215 POWs, including commanders of the notorious neo-Nazi battalion ‘Azov’ and foreign mercenaries who were sentenced to death in the DPR.

Ukrainian opposition politician Viktor Medvedchuk was among the prisoners who came to Russia. He was detained by the Ukrainian Security Service SBU in Kiev in February 2022. MSM and the Kiev regime often label Medvedchuk as a ‘pro-Russian figure’ acting in the interests of Russia, while actions of this person on the political landscape of Ukraine clearly demonstrate that this statement is a great embellishment.

On top of this, Returned Russian POWs have clear signs of tortures and inhumane treatment by the ‘Ukrainian democrats’. Some of them were immediately taken to hospitals. In turn, persons released by Russia had no health issues caused by detention and immediately run to participate in press events to make photos for Instagram and talk about ‘Russian tortures’.

As for the Ukrainian prisoners, in total 215 were released. 118 National guardsmen, including 108 servicemen of the Nazi Azov regiment. Among them, there are notorious Azov commanders Denis Prokopenko (Radish), Sergei Volynsky (Volyn) and Svyatoslav Palamar (Kalina).

Among the exchanged Azov fighters, there are Konstantin (Fox) Nikitenko and Nikolai (Frost) Kushch, who surrendered at Azovstal. They were found guilty by the tribunal of shooting civilians and Russian prisoners. Frost “became famous” by sharing videos on the Internet. On of them showed a Russian tankman being shot in the stomach.

The exchange fund also included at least 10 foreign mercenaries, among them Britons Sean Pinner and Aiden Aslin, as well as Moroccan citizen Saadoun Brahim. All three were captured in April, and in the summer were sentenced to death in the DPR. The DPR claimed that in accordance with international humanitarian law, mercenaries cannot be considered combatants and claim the status of prisoners of war. Thus, they could not be exchanged. Among the foreigners released from captivity, there were five Britons, two US citizens, one citizen of Morocco, Sweden and Croatia. MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THE EXCHANGE CAN BE FOUND HERE 

The unequal exchange that took place on September 22 immediately caused a large number of critical reports in Russian Telegram channels and expected dissatisfaction in the Russian society. The lack of immediate, clear and detailed reporting on the prisoner exchange by the Russian side amid the expected aggressive propaganda by MSM, Kiev and its NATO supporters turned the exchange into a large media failure for the Russian side.

The Odd Prisoner Exchange

Azov commanders released

What is more interesting is the logic behind these developments. Right now, the L/DPR, Kherson and Zaporozhie regions are voting on referenda to join Russia. And in the case of “YES” vote and the subsequent Russia’s decision to accept these territories as new regions, all legal obligations of their authorities would pass to the Russian Federation and all legal procedures would then have to be carried out in accordance with Russian law and under Russian jurisdiction. Therefore, death sentences of captured mercenaries and criminals that remain in the DPR will remain active in Russia and the only option to remove them would be to carry out extraordinary legal procedures (for example, presidential pardons). Thus, with DPR’s accession to the Russian Federation, there would be much less room for “manoeuvre” with the prisoners. Almost the only option to carry out such exchange that we have observed on September 22 was to carry out it before the joining of the DPR to Russia.

So, the maneuver successfully happened and the Russian side achieved political and geopolitical effects that it has wanted to achieve. Regardless, how it was perceived by the society because of the weak media coverage of this exchange.

It should be noted that the Kiev side explained the swap by claims that it won a diplomatic game against Moscow and speculations that there are direct agents of Kiev among Russian elites and political leadership. There are no doubts that at least a part of the Russian oligarchy (affiliated with the globalists) is very unhappy with the Russian military operation in Ukraine and these forces try their best to sabotage the Russian actions there.

Involvement of such notorious oligarch Roman Abramovich (currently hides in the UK) in this story points at these forces.

According to British media, Roman Abramovich took an active part in the exchange. The foreign militants were surprised that after months of captivity they were sent to Saudi Arabia on a private plane. The mercenaries, in an interview given to the British media, reported that they eat tiramisu, canapes on board. In addition, Abramovich gave them iPhones so that they could talk to their families.

“Abramovich was very nice to us, he’s a really nice guy,” the Briton praised him.

Abramovich also took part in negotiations between Russia and Ukraine in Turkey, after which the Russian military left the Kiev, Sumy and Chernihov regions back in April as a sign of goodwill, believing that Kiev was ready for constructive negotiations. Ukrainian blogger and politician Anatoly Shariy previously reported that Abramovich paid the Kiev regime so that it asks its Western allies to exclude the oligarch from the sanction lists. Abramovich is trying his best to please the British elites.

Contacts of the Kremlin with top representatives of Saudi Arabia (Mohammed bin Salman) and Turkey (Recep Tayyip Erdogan) over this exchange indicate an apparent network of formal and informal economic and political agreements reached by Russia, Saudi Arabia and Turkey under the coverage of the September developments. In this light, the exchange was rather a diplomatic long ball of the Kremlin to its partners.

The current Russian leadership has a long and colorful tradition of achieving its long-term goals by making various ‘strange’ and often unclear (for external observer) actions. Therefore, such move, especially if it allows to make important arrangements with Turkey and Saudi Arabia, goes in the best tradition of the modern Russian diplomacy. Despite this, the involvement of notorious oligarch and unequal exchange of prisoners that were not really explained by the government to the Russian society throw a shadow on the entire situation. Oligarchs and Western-affiliated segment of the Russian elites who clearly act against interests of the Russian nation still keep a large part of their influence, even if it is reduced by Russian actions since February 2022. Therefore, the Russian leadership needs not only carry out a successful military campaign in Ukraine to achieve declared goals there, but also to take care about representatives of elites and oligarchs who act against interests of the Russian state.