UARU
Ukraine has freed 144 service members from Russian captivity, most of them Azovstal defenders
29 June, 2022
Data?1656517489
Ukrainian service members at Azovstal iron and steel works in Mariupol, 7 May 2022 Dmytro Kozatski / Azov Special Forces Regiment of the Ukrainian National Guard Press Office via AP

Ukraine carried out another exchange of prisoners of war, returning home 144 Ukrainian service members, 95 of whom are defenders of Azovstal, including 43 members of the Azov Regiment. This is the largest exchange of POWs between Ukraine and Russia since the beginning of the full-scale invasion, says Defence Intelligence of the Ministry of Defence of Ukraine.

Among the 144 released service members, 59 are members of the National Guard, 30 - Naval Forces, 28 - Armed Forces of Ukraine, 17 - State Border Guard Service of Ukraine, 9 - Territorial defense, 1 - National Police of Ukraine. 

The list includes 23 officers and 69 sergeants. The oldest of those released is 65, and the youngest is 19. Most of the released Ukrainians have serious injuries: gunshot and shrapnel wounds, explosive injuries, burns, fractures, and amputations of limbs.

Ukraine's Defence Ministry says that all the wounded receive appropriate emergency medical and psychological care. The coordination headquarters continues its work on the return of all captured defenders.

Background

Mariupol defenders left the territory of the Azovstal plant in mid-May after several months of confrontation with the Russian forces in the besieged city. The occupiers broke into the plant on May 4.

Thanks to the Azovstal fighters, Ukraine has been given critical time to build up reserves, regroup and receive assistance from partners. Ukraine'sUkraine's top military command ordered the commanders of the units at Azovstal to save the lives of the personnel.

The Ministry of Defense of Ukraine stated that the rescued Ukrainian service members would be exchanged for Russian prisoners of war. Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council Oleksiy Danilov said that most of the Mariupol defenders are in the territory of Donetsk Oblast, not controlled by Ukraine.