Russia-Ukraine Conduct Prisoner Exchange, 45 Soldiers Barter 3 Pilots. PHOTOS/Anadolu Agency
KIEV – Ukraine said on Saturday (6/5/2023), that 45 soldiers returned home in a new round prisoner exchange with Russia in the middle of an ongoing war. Since the invasion, Russia and Ukraine have exchanged prisoners several times.
“A total of 42 people who were released were men and three women. They are all soldiers of the Azov Brigade which was formed nine years ago,” said the Ukrainian Ministry of Reintegration of the Temporary Occupied Territories, as quoted by Anadolu Agency.
The Azov Brigade fighters, who did most of the fighting in the failed defense of the port city of Mariupol, are regarded as heroes by many Ukrainians but are widely vilified in Russia.
“The freed Ukrainian prisoners included 42 men and three women from the Azov battalion,” said Andriy Yermak, head of the Office of the President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky.
“Great news on this sunny day. We returned home our 45 people. Thirty-five privates and sergeants, 10 officers,” Yermak said on the telegram app in a post that made no mention of the release of the Russian prisoners.
Earlier on Saturday, Russia’s Defense Ministry said three Russian pilots were returned from detention in Ukraine.
“As a result of a difficult negotiation process, three Russian servicemen – pilots of the Russian Aerospace Forces who were in grave danger while being detained – were returned from areas controlled by the Kyiv regime,” said a Russian Defense Ministry statement.
A previous prisoner exchange between Russia and Ukraine took place on April 16, with the two countries announcing an exchange from the ongoing 14-month conflict each month.