Yermak also told that the five commanders were exchanged for 55 Russian PoWs, 200 PoWs were exchanged for “Putin’s man in Ukraine,” pro-Russian politician Viktor Medvedchuk. The remaining 10 are foreigners who fought on Ukraine’s side.
The largest part of the exchange took place in Chernihiv Oblast in the late hours of 21 September.
“Finally, we were able to return another part of the defenders of Mariupol, including the fighters of the Azov regiment. Tonight the exchange took place that we’ve been waiting for,” wrote Maksym Zhorin, former commander of the Azov regiment.
In his interview with PBS released on 19 September, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said that he had negotiated with Putin the exchange of 200 Ukrainian prisoners:
“In Uzbekistan, I got together with President Putin, and we had very extensive discussions with him. And he is actually showing me that he’s willing to end this as soon as possible. That was my impression, because the way things are going right now are quite problematic; 200 hostages will be exchanged upon an agreement between the parties,” he said to PBS.
Photos of those exchanged confirm the release of:
- Mariupol Patrol Police Head Mykhailo Vershynin:
- paramedic Kateryna Polishchuk:
- the 36th brigade’s senior sergeant Mykhailo Dianov
- Mariupol policeman Sviatoslav Yermolov:
Also, Presidential Office Chief Yermak named several more released PoWs:
- Denys Prokopenko (call sign Redis), Azov commander;
- Serhii Volynskyi (call sign Volyna) of the 36th marine brigade;
- Sviatoslav Palamar of the Azov regiment
- Oleh Homenko
- Denys Shleha of the National Guard
- Yevhenii Bova
- pregnant military medic Mariana Mamonova
In his address, President Zelenskyy also mentioned the following released Ukrainian PoWs:
- Lev Ptashko;
- Mykola Kuts;
- Kostiantyn Nykytenko;
- Dmytro Kozatskyi (call sign Orest) – the famous Azovstal photographer.
Also, Zelenskyy said that four more female PoWs returned home:
- Valentyna Zubko;
- Yana Shumovetska;
- Zoriana Repetska;
- Anastasia Chernetska.
Azov Regiment’s commander Denys Prokopenko and deputy commander Sviatoslav Palamar, as well as other Azov and marine commanders were released possibly under the extraction procedure. Yermak said that five commanders will remain in Türkiye under protection and security guarantees.
Sources of the Russian-run “DNR” claim that Ukraine handed over to Russians the “servicemen who were captured as a result of the [Russian] retreat in the Kharkiv direction, as well as captured military pilots of the Russian Armed Forces.”
Update: Presidential Office Chief Yermak told President Zelenskyy:
“Among those whom we’ve released today are 108 fighters of the Azov Regiment, and of other formations – National Guard, the servicemen of the ground forces, navy, border guard, police, territorial defense, SBU officers, transport state servants, state customs service.”
According to Novaya Gazeta, five Azov commanders were exchanged for 55 Russian prisoners of war, and another 200 Ukrainian POWs for Putin’s Ukrainian ally, Viktor Medvedchuk, arrested in mid-April in Ukraine.
In May, Putin’s spox Dmitry Peskov said exchanging POWs for Medvedchuk is impossible, as POWs and the pro-Russian politician are “different categories of people, thus we can’t talk about an exchange.”
- On June 29, as part of the largest exchange of prisoners since February 24, Ukraine returned home 144 soldiers, including 95 defenders of Azovstal.
- In May, Russians transferred the Ukrainian defenders of Mariupol to a penal colony Donetsk Oblast. Ukrainska Pravda’s sources in the Ukrainian power structures claimed that 2,449 Ukrainian servicemen were held in Donetsk’s Olenivka as prisoners of war.
- Following Kyiv orders, the encircled defenders of Mariupol left their last stronghold in the city – the Azovstal steel mill – on May 16-20. Russia stated that there were 2,439 fighters who came out of Azovstal. The representatives of the Red Cross registered those as prisoners of war.
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- Murder of Ukrainian POWs in Olenivka prison: everything we know
- Ukraine accuses Russia of killing Ukrainian POWs in strike on Donbas prison
- Intellectuals urge world leaders to prevent Russia’s show trial of Ukrainian PoWs in occupied Mariupol
- 8-months Ukrainian pregnant medic held captive by Russians
- ICRC says it didn’t guarantee safety of Ukrainian Azovstal POWs
- PoW Azov regiment’s commander Prokopenko possibly taken to Russia – wife
- 500 bodies of Ukrainian soldiers returned from occupied Mariupol – “Azov Angels”
- “They love pets, books, and sports.” Wives of Azovstal defenders tell about their husbands and efforts to save them
- Stories too horrifying to disclose. Over 80 Ukrainian medics tortured in Russian captivity
- Evacuation of Ukrainian soldiers is underway from Azovstal in occupied Mariupol (May 2022)
- Azov fighter Illia in Mariupol: “For the Azov Regiment, captivity means certain death”
- Ukraine calls on Doctors Without Borders to evacuate Mariupol defenders