Russia and Ukraine exchange hundreds of prisoners

Russia and Ukraine exchanged hundreds of prisoners of war on Thursday.

One hundred Russian service members were exchanged for 100 members of the Ukrainian Armed Forces (UAF) following negotiations that were mediated by the United Arab Emirates, the Russian Ministry of Defence said in a statement.

The ministry said its freed servicemen would be flown back by the Russian Air Force and given medical and psychological assistance.

The released Ukrainians included 49 soldiers, 25 border guards and some servicemen from the territorial defense forces, according to Ukraine’s Coordination Headquarters for the Treatment of Prisoners of War (KSHPPV).

The eldest was 62-years-old and the youngest was 20, KSHPPV said.

“All of the rescued soldiers are privates and sergeants. 84 of the rescued soldiers defended Mariupol (including 82 defenders of Azovstal), the rest performed combat missions in the Donetsk and Luhansk sectors,” KSHPPV said.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Telegram that the released prisoners had returned to Ukraine. “All of them are ours, all of them are back on their native land,” Zelensky said.

“We are working on each and every one of them and will not stop until we bring them back!” He added.

CNN cannot independently verify the claims made by either side.

Last week, Ukraine and Russia exchanged hundreds of prisoners of war in what the Ukrainian government called the “second major exchange after a long break.”

It was the first exchange since the mysterious crash of a Russian IL-76 plane on January 24 in Russia’s Belgorod region, which neighbors eastern Ukraine.

Moscow claimed the plane was transporting dozens of Ukrainian prisoners of war, while Kyiv said it was carrying Russian missiles to be used in further strikes on Ukraine.

Zelensky said 207 Ukrainian service members were returned on Wednesday, while the Russian Defense Ministry said 195 Russian military personnel had been received.

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