On 31 January, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy reported that Ukraine managed to return home 207 captives in a POW swap with Russia. Multiple sources indicate that Ukraine exchanged them for 195 Russian prisoners of war. Ukraine’s Coordination Headquarters for the Treatment of Prisoners of War says it has been the 50th prisoner swap since the beginning of the all-out war.
On 24 January, Russia halted an exchange after a crash of the Russian Air Force’s IL-76 in Belgorod Oblast. Russia’s Defense Ministry claimed that the aircraft allegedly carried 65 Ukrainian POWs, all of whom ostensibly died in the crash. However, these claims have not been confirmed so far.
“Our guys are at home. 207 guys. We keep returning them no matter what. We remember each and every one of them in captivity. Soldiers and civilians. We have to return everyone. We are working on it,” Zelenskyy’s message on the Telegram messenger reads.
The President’s Office reported that among those released from Russian captivity are the “soldiers of the Armed Forces, the National Guard, the State Border Guard Service, and the National Police – privates, sergeants, and officers.”
“A lot of Mariupol defenders, soldiers who were at Azovstal, Zmiinyi Island, Donetsk, Zaporizhzhia, Kharkiv, Luhansk, Kherson, and Sumy directions,” the report reads.
It is the second large prisoner exchange after a few-month-long pause. Earlier, on 3 January, the largest POW swap since the outset of Russia’s full-scale invasion occurred, as Kyiv returned home 230 Ukrainians – 225 men and five women – from captivity, exchanging them for 248 Russians.
Since the beginning of the full-scale invasion, Ukraine has returned home almost 2,800 military and civilians from Russian captivity.
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