KATERYNA TYSHCHENKO – WEDNESDAY, 29 JUNE 2022, 17:32
As part of the largest prisoner exchange since 24 February, 144 soldiers, including 95 defenders of Azovstal, have returned to Ukraine.
Photo: Main Directorate of Intelligence of the Ministry of Defence of Ukraine
Quote: "Another prisoner exchange has been held, thanks to which 144 Ukrainian defenders have returned home. This is the largest exchange since the beginning of the full-scale Russian invasion.
Of the 144 released, 95 are Azovstal defenders. Among them are 43 servicemen of the Azov Regiment."
Details: A total of 59 soldiers of the National Guard, 30 naval personnel, 28 members of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, 17 members of the State Border Service of Ukraine, 9 Territorial Defence personnel and 1 member of the National Police of Ukraine were released.
Of these, 23 are officers and 69 military personnel of non-commissioned and senior staff. The oldest of those released was 65 years old, the youngest 19.
The Main Directorate of Intelligence of the Ministry of Defence of Ukraine noted that most of the released Ukrainians have serious injuries: gunshot and shrapnel wounds, explosives-related injuries, burns, fractures, and amputated limbs. All of them are receiving proper emergency medical and psychological care.
Previously: On June 22, the head of Ukrainian intelligence, Kyrylo Budanov, who is responsible for the exchange of the Ukrainian defenders from Azovstal, said that "in the near future" he hopes for the release of a "significant number" of Ukrainian prisoners.
Ukrainian defenders of Mariupol, who were transported out of the Azovstal territory in May, were located in a colony in the Donetsk Oblast. Ukrainska Pravda sources in the Ukrainian authorities claimed that 2,449 Ukrainian servicemen are being held as prisoners in Olenivka.
The exit of The Defenders of Mariupol to the territory controlled by the Russians took place on 16-20 May. According to the Russian side, 2,439 fighters came out from the dungeons of Azovstal. Representatives of the Red Cross registered the Ukrainian defenders as prisoners of war.
The General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine stated that the "Mariupol" garrison had completed their combat mission and the commanders were given the order to save the lives of their personnel. The Defence Ministry explained that there was no other escape option for the defenders from Azovstal, except to go out to the enemy unarmed.
On 19 June, Russian media reported that the commanders of the Azov Regiment had been taken out from the occupied territory of the Donetsk region to Russia for "investigative actions". Prior to that, the commander of the "Azov" National Guard Regiment Denys Prokopenko passed duties to Major Mykyta Nadtochii.