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45 Azovstal defenders return to Ukraine, and three fighter pilots to Russia, in prisoner exchange

Source: Meduza

Russia and Ukraine conducted a prisoner exchange during which 45 people returned to Ukraine, reports presidential adviser Andriy Yermak. 

“They are 42 men and three women who defended Azovstal. All of them served in the national guard in units formed nine years ago on the shores of the Azov. 35 are ranked sergeants, and 10 are officers,” Yermak wrote, adding that “among them are fighters who got married during the defense of Mariupol, at Azovstal.”

Yermak added that one of the freed Ukrainian soldiers had been in Russian captivity once before — he was taken prisoner during the Shyrokyne standoff (a battle near Mariupol from February to June 2015) and spent two and a half years in captivity.

Russia’s Defense Ministry reported the return of three fighter pilots to Russia. A press release says that “The freed service members will be transported via military transport aircraft for treatment and rehabilitation in the Defense Ministry’s medical department.” 

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