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Zelensky: 207 Ukrainian prisoners return home from Russian captivity, almost half of them Mariupol defenders

by Nate Ostiller January 31, 2024 2:59 PM 2 min read
Ukrainian prisoners return home from Russian captivity on Jan. 31, 2024. (President Volodymyr Zelensky/Telegram)
This audio is created with AI assistance

President Volodymyr Zelensky said that 207 Ukrainian prisoners returned home from Russian captivity on Jan. 31 and that "almost half of them are Mariupol defenders."

The group consisted of 180 privates and sergeants, as well as 27 officers from the Armed Forces, National Guard, Border Guard, and National Police, Zelensky said in a later update.

Earlier in January, 230 Ukrainian prisoners of war (POWs) were brought back home in the largest prisoner exchange to date since February 2022.

"We remember each Ukrainian in captivity," Zelensky said. "Both warriors and civilians. We must bring all of them back."

Zelensky also thanked his team for helping orchestrate the return of the prisoners.

According to Chief Ombudsman Dmytro Lubinets, the exchange was the 50th of its kind and in total, 3,035 Ukrainians have been returned from captivity.

The soldiers will "have a warm dinner, receive clean clothes, a medical examination, restoration of documents, bank cards, and rehabilitation," Lubinets said on Telegram.

Lubinets thanked the work of the Coordination Headquarters for the Treatment of Prisoners of War, the Joint Center for the Coordination of the Search and Release of Prisoners of War, and the Security Service of Ukraine for its work.

None of those exchanged on Jan. 31 were individuals named on a list that Russian propagandists claimed had been on board the Il-76 aircraft that crashed on Jan. 24, military intelligence (HUR) spokesperson Andrii Yusov told Ukrainska Pravda.

Lubinets told Sky News on Jan. 25 that the list of prisoners included some of those who had already been swapped before.

Ukrainian media outlet Suspilne analyzed the list and confirmed that most of the names were previously mentioned as being POWs or missing persons and that some had appeared in captivity in Russian propaganda videos.

Suspilne could not confirm, however, that those on the list were actually on the plane when it crashed, nor that they were potentially part of a prisoner exchange.

230 Ukrainian POWs return home from Russian captivity in largest prisoner exchange in full-scale war
The previous prisoner swap between Ukraine and Russia took place in August last year, after which, according to Ukrainian officials, Moscow refused to continue the practices in an alleged effort to turn Ukrainian families of POWs against their own authorities.
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