The release of the service members was secured through complex negotiations, the Defense Ministry has said
Three Russian Air Force members that were taken prisoner by Ukraine have been returned home, the Ministry of Defense announced on Saturday. Kiev has said that nearly 50 of its combatants were returned, all of whom are members of the National Guard.
In a statement, the Defense Ministry said that the release was achieved through a “complicated negotiation process,” and that the Russian pilots “were in mortal danger while in captivity.” It added that the former POWs are now receiving all necessary medical and psychological help and will be taken to medical institutions by transport military planes.
Minutes later, Andrey Ermak, the chief of staff to President Vladimir Zelensky, said that Ukraine had secured the release of 45 service members, three of whom were women.
“All of them are members of the National Guard from the unit created 9 years ago on the shores of the Azov Sea,” Ermak wrote on Telegram without elaborating. He added that the group includes 35 privates and sergeants, and ten officers.
Since the start of the Ukraine conflict, Moscow and Kiev have conducted numerous POW swaps – one of the few remaining paths of diplomatic engagement between the two countries.
The previous exchange took place on April 26, when a total of 40 Russian soldiers returned home, according to the Defense Ministry. Kiev said it had repatriated 42 Ukrainian service members and two civilians.
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On Friday, Ukraine also announced that they had retrieved the bodies of 80 service members from Russia-controlled territories.
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