Ukraine exchanges prisoners: Azov Fighters remain in Russian captivity

, 21:00, 01.02.2024
Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

Ukraine conducted a prisoner exchange, releasing 207 soldiers and civilians. However, over 900 Azov fighters who defended Mariupol are still held captive by Russia.

Ukraine exchanges prisoners: Azov Fighters remain in Russian captivity

Over 900 Azov fighters are in Russian captivity

On January 31, a significant prisoner exchange occurred, with Ukraine releasing 207 Ukrainian soldiers and civilians from Russian captivity. According to Denys Prokopenko, commander of the 12th Special Purpose Brigade of the National Guard “Azov”, more than 900 “Azov” fighters who defended Mariupol remain in Russian custody.

Prokopenko, known as "Redis", announced on his Facebook page that two soldiers from the 12th “Azov” NSU brigade have returned from enemy captivity and rejoined the military following the expansion of the "Azov" unit from a regiment to a brigade.

However, Prokopenko's joy at their return is tempered by the fact that relatives of soldiers who defended Mariupol under the Azov Regiment will no longer see their loved ones' names on the lists. Despite over a year and a half passing since the order to cease defending Mariupol, their names have rarely appeared in exchange lists.

Commander's plea for captive Azov Fighters

Prokopenko emphasized that more than 900 Azov citizens are still in Russian captivity, having valiantly defended Mariupol for 86 days, preventing the enemy from transferring forces and resources towards Zaporozhye.

"We are engaged in fierce combat against the occupiers in the Kreminnaya forests, capturing and neutralizing Russian soldiers. We still have faith in the efforts of relevant authorities to secure the release of our heroes. We express gratitude to every Ukrainian who remembers their bravery and fights for their freedom," added Denys Prokopenko.

Details of the prisoner exchange

To date, Ukraine has successfully repatriated 3,035 prisoners of war. President Volodymyr Zelensky announced the return of 207 Ukrainian soldiers and civilians on January 31, expressing determination to bring all captives home.

"And we continue to work and fulfill the president's task - the return of everyone," noted Andriy Yermak, head of the Chancellery of the President.

The recent releases include soldiers from various branches such as the Armed Forces, National Guard, State Border Guard Service, and National Police, encompassing privates, sergeants, and officers.

According to the Coordinating Command for the Treatment of Prisoners of War, the freed individuals comprise 95 Armed Forces members, 56 National Guard personnel, 26 Border Guard officers, 29 Territorial Defense soldiers, and one National Police representative. Among them are doctors who provided aid during the defense of Mariupol and Azovstal Metallurgical Plant.

Of those returning, 180 are enlisted personnel, while 27 are officers. At least 36 individuals have sustained injuries or serious illnesses. The age range of the released defenders spans from 21 to 61 years old and includes defenders from Mariupol, Kherson, Snake Island, marines, and combat medics.


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