110 Russians have been freed, including 72 sailors from commercial ships seized since February, while 108 female Ukrainian prisoners of war have been released.
Moscow and Kyiv carried out one of the largest prisoner swaps of the war to date, exchanging a total of 218 detainees, including 108 Ukrainian women, officials from the two countries said.
Andriy Yermak, head of the Ukrainian President’s staff, said 12 civilians were among the women released on Monday.
“Another large-scale prisoner of war exchange took place today,” Yermak wrote on the Telegram messaging app. “… We have freed 108 women from captivity. It was the first time [Ukrainian] all-female exchanges. “
He said 37 women were arrested after the arrest by Russian forces Azovstal Steel Workshop in the city of Mariupol in May.
Mariupol, a port city on the Sea of Azov in southeastern Ukraine, has endured for weeks Russian bombardment. Resistance is concentrated in a dense network of tunnels under its Azovstal steel mill.
“Ukraine does not abandon anyone,” Yermak said. According to him, some of the people who were exchanged were mothers and daughters who were held together.
Pictures released by Yermak showed dozens of women, some in military jackets and uniforms, getting off the white bus.
The oldest woman is 62 years old while the youngest is 21 years old, the Prisons of War Treatment Coordination Headquarters said.
The Russian Defense Ministry confirmed the swap, saying 110 Russians had been released, including 72 sailors, from commercial ships seized since February. It said all those returned would be flown to Moscow and given medical and psychological support.
Ukraine’s Interior Ministry says a number of released women have been in prison since 2019 after being detained by pro-Moscow authorities in the eastern regions.
The latest exchange follows a prisoner swap last week when the two sides exchanged dozens of soldiers.