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In an interview with FRANCE 24, former Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko expressed concern over the fate of the Ukrainian soldiers evacuated from the besieged Azovstal steel plant in the eastern city of Mariupol, saying that Russian President Vladimir Putin should “never” be trusted. Ukrainian authorities say the fighters have been taken to areas under the control of Russian forces or pro-Russian rebels and will be exchanged at a later date for Russian prisoners.
Speaking to FRANCE 24 from Kyiv, Ukraine‘s former president Petro Poroshenko (2014–2019) said he was concerned over the fate of the Ukrainian soldiers who surrendered at the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol. While hailing the fighters as heroes, he said his experience in dealing with Vladimir Putin had taught him never to trust the Russian leader. Poroshenko said that during his own mandate, several Ukrainians held in Russia had not been released, despite promises from Putin. He added that he hoped the Ukrainian negotiators had obtained guarantees that the prisoners would not be prosecuted or jailed in Russia.
Poroshenko praised the performance of the Ukrainian armed forces for pushing Russia out of Kyiv and Kharkiv and held out hope that they will be able to resist in the eastern Donbas region, where most of the fighting is taking place at the moment. He also urged Western countries to continue supplying heavy weapons to Kyiv.
The former Ukrainian leader rejected any partition of his country by Russia, saying that such a prospect would be just as unacceptable as if France were asked to part ways with Corsica. While accusing Russia of committing war crimes, he said Ukraine wanted an “immediate and unconditional” ceasefire and a negotiated solution. He hailed the support of French President Emmanuel Macron for his country but invited the French leader to come to Kyiv to see the situation for himself.