During the visit to the Republic of Türkiye, Head of the Office of the President of Ukraine Andriy Yermak met with five Ukrainian servicemen - defenders of "Azovstal" recently released from Russian captivity, and organized their meeting with their relatives.
Commander of the "Azov" separate special purpose regiment of the National Guard Denys Prokopenko (Redis), his deputy Svyatoslav Palamar, acting commander of the 36th separate brigade of marines Serhiy Volynskyi (Volyna), senior officer of "Azov" Oleg Khomenko and commander of the 12th brigade of the National Guard Denys Shlega are in Türkiye according to the terms of exchange under the personal guarantees of protection of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
Andriy Yermak, on behalf of President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy and personally, expressed gratitude and sincere respect to the Ukrainian military for their courage, bravery and resilience.
He noted that no one will be able to fully understand the trials that the defenders of Azovstal went through, but this experience of captivity can be used to mitigate the fate of other Ukrainian prisoners of war.
"We must release everyone who remains in Russian captivity and behind bars, everyone who was forcibly deported. You understand how important this is. People are the most valuable thing in Ukraine. And we are fighting hard for the return of every one of our warriors and every civilian," he said.
The Head of the Office of the President of Ukraine also emphasized the importance of organizing the rehabilitation of the released warriors and their adaptation to normal life.
In addition, Andriy Yermak, with the assistance of the Turkish side, organized a meeting of Azovstal defenders with their family members, who also arrived in Türkiye. The warriors were able to see and hug their loved ones for the first time in many months.
The Head of the Presidential Office noted that during the time the servicemen were in captivity, their families also had to go through extremely difficult trials, and they coped with them with dignity.
"Your relatives fought for your release persistently. They have been waiting for you for so long," Andriy Yermak said.
He also emphasized that the families of the defenders of "Azovstal" are fighting for the release of all those who are still in captivity. And these efforts are extremely important and deserve enormous respect.
Andriy Yermak wished the heroes a speedy recovery and expressed his belief that thanks to the courage and self-sacrifice of our soldiers and people, Ukraine will win and the commanders will be able to return to the homeland and reunite with their families. Until then, Ukraine, together with its partners, will take care of the safety of soldiers and their families.
"The main thing today is to ensure the maximum possible recovery of our defenders. Equally important is the health of body and spirit. So treat your rehabilitation as responsibly as possible, you must follow all the doctors' recommendations," Andriy Yermak added.
The Head of the President's Office also noted that the history of the defense of Mariupol and "Azovstal" became for the whole world a testimony of the courage and resilience of the Ukrainian people and will remain an example of indomitability for many generations of Ukrainians.
"Mariupol became our Thermopylae. Like about the 300 Spartans, the whole world should know about the defense and tragedy of Mariupol. But the most important thing I always say is that the heroes must be alive," summed up Andriy Yermak.