Ukraine Frees 215 People in Prisoner Swap with Russia
Ukraine freed more than 200 people from Russian captivity in a recent prisoner swap, President Volodymyr Zelensky’s office announced.
Ukrainian forces returned 215 people, including 124 officers, who were held by Russia. This includes 108 soldiers in the Azov regiment, 188 from Azovstal and Mariupol and eight wounded during the attack in Olenivka.
Overall, Ukrainian servicemembers from the National Guard, navy, army, border guard, national police and employees of the security service were all freed.
“This is the most powerful result in the release of prisoners during the entire period of the full-scale invasion,” Head of the Office of the President Andriy Yermak said in a statement.
Additionally, five more citizens were released in an exchange for 55 Russian prisoners. Zelensky said those Russian captives “deserve neither pity, nor sympathy, nor any words at all.”
Most of those released are in Ukraine, with the exception of five Azov commanders who are under the personal protection of Turkish Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
In a video call with the released fighters, Zelensky thanked them for their service to Ukraine
“Congratulations, our men, our heroes, on your return,” he said. “We are extremely proud of what you have done for our country.”
Ukraine also freed ten foreign prisoners held by Russia during this prisoner exchange, including two American veterans who were captured while fighting alongside Ukrainian forces. The other foreigners were from Great Britain, Morocco, Sweden and Croatia, Zelensky said.
“This is a tremendous success and I am grateful to everyone involved in this operation – everyone who has done this titanic work,” Yermak said. “I sincerely congratulate our heroes on their return home.”
He added that Ukraine will provide them with all necessary medical, social or other form of aid.
Zelensky called this exchange a “great victory,” as many prisoners were sentenced to death before they were rescued.
“I believe that this is truly a great victory for our state, for our entire society,” he said. “And most importantly – for the families of our defenders, who will be able to see their loved ones in safety.”
He added that Ukraine will “do everything to save everyone who is in Russian captivity.”
“We value every life,” Zelensky said. “This is what distinguishes us from the enemy.”