More than 1,300 prisoners have been returned to Ukraine since Russian troops invaded the pro-Western country, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Thursday.
Zelensky was speaking following a new exchange of prisoners with Russian and pro-Russian forces.
“After today’s exchange, there are already 1,319 heroes who returned home,” Zelensky said on Instagram, posting a photo showing a few dozen men holding Ukrainian flags.
“We will not stop until we get all our people back,” the Ukrainian leader said.
Zelensky’s chief of staff, Andriy Yermak, said 50 Ukrainians had come home.
“We are returning the defenders of Mariupol and Azovstal, we are returning prisoners who were in Olenivka and who were wounded, in particular during battles in the Donetsk, Lugansk, and Zaporizhzhia regions,” Yermak said on Telegram.
In July, dozens of Ukrainian soldiers died after the bombardment of the Moscow-controlled Olenivka prison in the eastern Donetsk region. Russia and Ukraine have accused each other for the strikes.
Ukrainians held at the facility included members of the Azov battalion, who defended the Azovstal steel works in Ukraine’s port city of Mariupol before surrendering to Moscow.
Russia’s defence ministry said Thursday it had received 50 prisoners of war “who were in mortal danger in captivity”.
In a meeting with the Red Cross in October Russia said it held around 6,000 Ukrainian prisoners of war.
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