On September 21, 215 Ukrainian defenders were released after four months in Russian captivity. Including 108 soldiers from the Azov regiment, and 10 foreigners.
Among the released prisoners of war are the 188 defenders of Azovstal and Mariupol, including Svyatoslav “Kalyna” Palamar, Sergey “Volyna” Volynskyi, Denys “Redys” Prokopenko, commander of the “Azov” regiment, and Dmytro “Orest” Kozatskyi, the author of the photo from Azovstal. The head of the Mariupol patrol police Mykhailo Vershinin, paramedic Kateryna Polishchuk with the call sign “Birdie” (“Ptashka”), and senior sergeant of the 36th brigade Mykhailo Dianov were also released.
Ukrainian soldiers stayed in Russian captivity for four months after were able to leave Azovstal in May. They left for Russian-controlled territory according to an agreement.
Read more about their story: Mariupol defenders left Azovstal more than a month ago. What do we know about them since?
“We agreed that the five released Azov commanders would stay in comfortable conditions in Türkiye until the end of the war and would be able to see their families,” — said Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the President of Ukraine.
10 foreign citizens from the UK, USA, Morocco, Sweden, and Croatia, who bravely supported Ukraine with arms on the frontline, are also back from Russia’s captivity.
Ukrainian defenders were exchanged for 55 Russian soldiers and Viktor Medvedchuk, a pro-Russian politician, arrested for high treason, and Vladimir Putinʼs crony.
This is the largest exchange of prisoners of war since the beginning of the full-scale war on February 24. However, more than 2,000 defenders of Mariupol remain in Russian captivity.
“We remember all those who are in Russian captivity and will do everything to save them.” — said Volodymyr Zelenskyy.