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Ukraine returns 45 POWs from Russian captivity

POW swap
Ukrainian soldiers return home from the Russian captivity. Credit: Andriy Yermak/Telegram

Today, 45 Ukrainians returned home from Russian captivity in the latest Russo-Ukrainian POW swap, the Head of the Ukrainian Presidential Office, Andriy Yermak, announced.

According to Andriy Yermak, 42 Ukrainian men and three women, who served in Ukraine’s National Guard and defended Mariupol (southeastern Ukraine) during the Russian siege of the city last spring, returned home: 35 privates and sergeants, and ten officers.

Some of the freed Ukrainian troops got married during the defense of Mariupol at the Azovstal steel plant, which was encircled by the Russian troops in April 2022.

The Azovstal plant became one of the most emblematic points of the siege of Mariupol during Russia’s all-out war against Ukraine. The plant had tunnels and bunkers capable of withstanding a nuclear attack, which allowed the Ukrainian garrison of Mariupol to organize a solid defense despite the encirclement. As the Russian forces advanced into Mariupol, Ukrainian troops withdrew to the Azovstal steel plant, which became the last pocket of Ukrainian resistance in the city that Russia now occupies.

In addition, a Ukrainian soldier, who had been in Russian captivity for more than two years, returned home today. He was captured by the Russian forces twice, during Russia’s proxy war in eastern Ukraine in 2015, long before the full-scale Russian invasion, and in 2022, during the defense of Mariupol.

Furthermore, a Special Operations Forces soldier who took part in the Ukrainian mission to evacuate the wounded from the Azovstal steel plant has also returned home today. The Russian forces shot down his helicopter during the mission. He was seriously injured but survived. Now the soldier will undergo treatment and rehabilitation.

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