Russia announced that it has more than 6,000 Ukrainian prisoners of war and confirmed that last Wednesday it exchanged 144 Ukrainian fighters for the same number of Russians and pro-Moscow separatists. It was the biggest such operation since the offensive began in February.
Among the 144 Ukrainians released, 95 defended the Mariupol metallurgical complex, Ukraine’s military intelligence agency said.
In addition, the prisoner exchange included the handing over of 43 members of the Azov regiment, a National Guard unit that Russia says is a dangerous far-right battalion in Ukraine, a promising sign for Ukrainians awaiting the release of other fighters from the Ukraine. unity.
“Almost all (Russian and pro-Moscow fighters) who have been released are injured or seriously injured. They are receiving the necessary medical care,” said Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov.
The injuries include burns, fractured bones and amputated limbs, the Russian Armed Forces agency, known as the GUR, said in a statement on Telegram.
Ukrainian authorities believe hundreds of their soldiers are being held by Russia and pro-Moscow separatist representatives in the east of the country, but their precise whereabouts are not known.