Russia and Ukraine announce prisoner exchange

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Former prisoner of war embraces her children Renat and Varvara as they return home after being illegally taken to Russia, in an unknown location in Ukraine, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, in this handout picture released July 6, 2023. Coordination Headquarters for the Treatment of Prisoners of War/Handout via REUTERS PARTY.

Russia and Ukraine announced a prisoner of war exchange on Thursday involving the return of 45 soldiers from each side.

Russia’s defence ministry said that 45 Russian servicemen had been returned from Ukrainian custody, the Russian news agency RIA reported.

Andriy Yermak, the head of Ukraine’s presidential staff, said 45 service personnel and two civilians had been returned to Ukraine.

In a post on the Telegram messaging app, Yermak said some of those freed had fought in Mariupol and the southern city’s Azovstal steel plant, and others had fought on the frontline elsewhere.

“Each of them is a hero,” Yermak said.

Ukraine’s human rights ombudsman, Dmytro Lubinets, said most of those freed were “seriously injured” and all would undergo rehabilitation.

In a separate post, Yermak said that two children aged six and 10 had been allowed to return to Ukraine following the release of their mother, a military medic, last October.

Russia and Ukraine have periodically exchanged groups of prisoners in the course of the war, now in its 17th month.

Lubinets said that 2,576 Ukrainians have been freed in prisoner swaps since the start of Russia’s full-scale invasion of its neighbour in February 2022.

SOURCE: REUTERS

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