Moscow trades 225 prisoners of war to Kyiv in exchange for 56 men, including Putin’s close friend, Viktor Medvedchuk
Pro-Kremlin Ukrainian opposition politician Viktor Medvedchuk (whose youngest daughter is Vladimir Putin’s goddaughter) has been freed from captivity along with 55 Russian soldiers. The men were traded to Moscow on September 21, and all it cost the Kremlin was the release of four times as many prisoners: 215 Ukrainian POWs (including members of the Azov Regiment and defenders of the Azovstal iron and steel works), plus 10 foreign combatants captured while fighting for Ukraine. Following the prisoner exchange, Ukraine’s armed forces said in a statement that Medvedchuk can still be prosecuted in absentia for treason and the attempted looting of national resources in Crimea.
In a video shared on social media, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said, “We are bringing home our people. There’s no question that this is a victory for our state and for our whole society. And most importantly, it’s a victory for 215 families who will be able to see their loved ones returned to safety.” In a video conference with Azov’s commanders, Zelensky said the terms of the prisoner exchange stipulate that five of the regiment’s senior officers will stay in Turkey until the end of the war under the personal protection of President Recep Erdoğan, who helped mediate the prisoner swap.
At the time of this writing, the Russian authorities have not commented publicly about the deal.