President's Office Head Andriy Yermak said on Dec. 31 that 140 Ukrainian prisoners of war, including servicemen and civilians, were freed from Russian captivity in a prisoner exchange.
Wounded soldiers who defended the then-besieged city of Mariupol in Donetsk Oblast, as well as Zmiiny (Snake) Island, are among those who returned home, according to the official. Others are Territorial Defense volunteers in the town of Slavutych in northern Ukraine, located close to the formerly Russian-occupied Chornobyl nuclear power plant.
There are also “fathers and sons” who were held in captivity together, as well as Ukrainian servicemen who were fighting near the embattled Donetsk Oblast city in Bakhmut, Yermak added.
Some of the 140 Ukrainians who were liberated from the Russian captivity in a prisoner exchange on Dec. 31. (Photo: Andriy Yermak via Telegram)“On the New Year's Eve, we not only repel the enemy's missile attacks but also bring back our people,” he said, referring to the Dec. 31 attack in which Russia fired more than 20 missiles at Ukraine.
Ukrainian Commander-in-Chief Valerii Zaluzhnyi reported following the attack that 12 out of the 20 missiles were shot down.
As of 4:30 p.m. local time, at least one person was killed in Kyiv, and at least 28 were wounded across Ukraine During Russia’s missile strike on Dec. 31, according to authorities.
As Ukraine enters 2023, about 3,400 Ukrainian servicemen are still held in Russian captivity and another 15,000 are missing, Alyona Verbytska, the President's Commissioner for the Rights of Defenders of Ukraine, said on Dec. 30.