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116 Ukrainian POWs, bodies of foreign volunteers, returned to Ukraine in prisoner swap with Russia

by The Kyiv Independent news deskFebruary 4, 2023 12:18 pm

116 Ukrainian POWs, bodies of foreign volunteers, returned to Ukraine in prisoner swap with RussiaUkrainian service members pose for a photo after being released from Russian captivity in a prisoner swap on Feb. 4, 2023. (Andriy Yermak/Telegram)

116 Ukrainian military personnel were freed from Russian captivity and returned to Ukraine in a prisoner exchange, head of Ukraine’s presidential office Andriy Yermak reported on Feb. 4.

The returned Ukrainian prisoners of war included services members of Ukraine’s Armed Forces, territorial defense units, naval forces, State Border Guard Service, National Guard, National Police, and Special Operations Forces. Two of the 116 were officers, while the rest were privates and sergeants.

“We managed to return 116 of our people, defenders of Mariupol, Kherson partisans, snipers from the Bakhmut direction, and other heroes,” he said.

On the other side of the swap, 63 Russian soldiers were returned from Ukrainian-controlled territory, according to Russian state news agency RIA Novosti, citing the Russian defense ministry.

Along with the POWs, the bodies of British volunteers Andrew Bagshaw and Chris Parry, as well as the body of Yevhen Kulyk — a volunteer soldier who served in the French Foreign Legion but returned to defend Ukraine after Feb. 24, Yermak said.

British volunteers Bagshaw and Parry went missing during an evacuation mission in the neighboring town of Soledar. Several weeks later, both were confirmed by their families to have been killed in Soledar, caught up in the Russian assault on the city. The exact circumstances of their deaths remain unknown. 

At least 3,392 Ukrainian soldiers and civilians remain in Russian captivity as of Jan. 3, according to Alyona Verbytska, the President’s Commissioner for Protecting Defenders Rights. These are the numbers that Russia has officially confirmed, she said.

Ukraine retrieved nearly 1,600 prisoners of war in 2022, according to the Ministry for Reintegration of Temporarily Occupied Territories.

In the most recent prisoner exchange on Jan. 8, Yermak reported that 50 Ukrainian military personnel were freed from Russian captivity.

The Kyiv Independent news desk
The Kyiv Independent news desk

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