Tuesday, January 31, 2023
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    Prisoner swap: 215 Azovstal defenders released from Russian captivity

    A total of 215 defenders of Mariupol, who had been holding their defenses at the Azovstal steelworks, Ukraine’s last stronghold in the area, were released from Russian captivity as a result of a massive swap effort.

    That’s according to the Head of the President’s Office, Andriy Yermak, Ukrinform reports.

    “President Volodymyr Zelensky set a clear task: to bring our heroes back home. The result: our heroes are free,” Yermak wrote on Facebook.

    “There was a large exchange of prisoners. It passed through several stages and in different locations. We brought back 215 people from Russian captivity,” the head of the president’s office said. “These are soldiers, border guards, policemen, sailors, national guardsmen, territorial forces’ troops, customs officers, and civilians. Among them are officers, commanders, Heroes of Ukraine, defenders of Azovstal, and pregnant military servicewomen,” the statement says.

    It is those “whom the Russians wanted to kill, whom they called ‘Nazis,’ our strong people who were not broken by battles and captivity,” including top commanders of the units which defended Mariupol.

    “This is the result of personal agreements between President Zelensky and President Erdogan,” says the statement.

    “The Russians wanted to blackmail us with their lives, but we won’t let them do that with anyone,” Yermak stressed.

    Also among those released are 10 foreigners who fought for Ukraine and were threatened with death. They are already in the city of Riyadh.

    Andriy Yermak said 200 Ukrainians were swapped for Vladimir Putin’s ally Viktor Medvedchuk, who has already provided all possible evidence to the inquiry.

    At the same time, five heroes, commanders of Azovstal defense, were swapped for 55 prisoners of war, “who are of no interest to us.”

    “It was a difficult process. We have 215 people released – this is a significant result, which was due to correct tactics using a position of strength, including the results of the frontline efforts by the Armed Forces,” the report reads.

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