The pro-Kremlin leader of Russia's Chechnya region, Ramzan Kadyrov, called on Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to reconsider his offer and not to facilitate the evacuation of Ukrainian fighters stuck in the Azovstal steel plant in Ukraine’s besieged port city of Mariupol.
“With all due respect to the leader of the Muslim state, I would like to remind you that the Azov regiment is a fascist-Nazi criminal armed formation that is involved in numerous atrocities and murders of the civilian population of Donbass,” Kadyrov wrote on Telegram, according to Russian state news agency TASS.
“I appeal to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan: the people of Azov are murderers and atheists, whom they now want to present to you as innocent victims of Russian aggression. Do not let yourself be deceived by criminals who want to avoid trial and well-deserved punishment with your help,” he added.
Erdogan’s spokesman Ibrahim Kalin told Reuters in an interview on Saturday that Ankara proposed to Kyiv carrying out a sea evacuation of the wounded fighters stuck in the plant. Kalin said he discussed the proposal with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy although Moscow hasn’t agreed to it.
Russian President Vladimir Putin had declared a victory in Mariupol and ordered his military to not storm the plan but to blockade it almost a month ago.
Yet, Ukrainian fighters – led by the Azov battalion – have reported that the fighting has not ceased, and that Russia continued to attempt to storm the plant, which they insisted was not yet under Moscow’s control. They also said wounded soldiers were “dying” there.
The Azov battalion is a far-right militia now part of Ukraine's National Guard.