On June 9, the bodies of the dead were exchanged on the front line in the Zaporizhia Oblast between Ukraine and Russia according to the 50-for-50 formula. Among them were the bodies of fallen Azovstal defenders, the press service of the Ministry of Reintegration of the Temporarily Occupied Territories reported.
It was clarified there that out of 50 Ukrainian defenders, there are 37 fallen Azovstal defenders. It was also reported that in addition to the Ministry of Reintegration, the Main Intelligence Directorate of the Ministry of Defense, the Security Service of Ukraine, the General Staff of the Armed Forces and other law enforcement agencies of Ukraine were also involved in the operation.
The process of returning the bodies of the dead Ukrainian servicemen is underway.
This comes after on June 2, the bodies of the dead were exchanged on the front line in the Zaporizhia Oblast between Ukraine and Russia, according to the 160- for-160 formula. Azov reported that all 160 bodies handed over by the Russians were from the Azovstal ruins, and at least 52 of them are considered the bodies of soldiers of the Azov Regiment.
Later it emerged that Russia transferred only part of those killed in the battles for Mariupol. It is not yet known when Ukraine will be able to retrieve the bodies of all those killed.
The Associated Press reported that dozens of bodies had already been transported to Kyiv and after being extracted from under the rubble of the bombarded plant. DNA analysis is being carried out in the capital to identify the dead.
What about the defenders of Mariupol?
Since the beginning of the full-scale war, Ukraine and Russia have held a number of exchanges of prisoners of war, exchanging hundreds of people. An operation is under way to exchange defenders of Mariupol, who left the territory of the Azovstal plant after several months of confrontation with the Russians in the besieged city, where the occupiers broke through on May 4.
Thanks to the Azovstal fighters, Ukraine has won critical time to build up reserves, regroup and receive assistance from partners. The military command leaders ordered the commanders of the units at Azovstal to save the lives of the personnel.
The Ministry of Defense stated that the rescued Ukrainian soldiers were exchanged for Russian prisoners of war. At the same time, they emphasize that the rescue operation is underway, so its details are not disclosed.