After Vladimir Putin’s announcement of a partial mobilization of Russian army reservists, and on the sidelines of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s address to the United Nations General Assembly, kyiv formalized late at night the 21 to 22 September the realization of an exchange of prisoners between Ukraine and Russia. During this exchange, a significant number of fighters from the Azov regiment, which defended the Mariupol Azovstal plant in the spring, were released.
With our correspondent in kyiv, Stephane Siohan
After hearing the Kremlin’s warlike desires all day Wednesday, the announcement of the release of the defenders ofAzovstal was received by the Ukrainians with great emotion.
As much as the Ukrainians had reacted with a certain phlegm, mixed with a very strong determination, to the announcement by the Kremlin of a mobilization of 300,000 reservistsas much, this Wednesday evening, many of them split the armor, when the first images of the release of Azovstal fighters began to circulate on the Internet.
We see the faces of men and women, who have become famous in Ukraine, after having resisted in the besieged factory until the end, in particular this young military nurse who sang in the Azovstal complex. A total of 215 Ukrainian soldiers were released in the exchange, including 108 members of the Azov regiment, including its commander and deputy.
A close friend of Putin in the exchange
Ukraine, for its part, delivered to Moscow 55 Russian soldiers, but also another prisoner of size, Viktor Medvedchuk, the former leader of the pro-Russian party in Ukraine. A personality close to Vladimir Putin, who was arrested last April, accused of high treason, while trying to flee the country.
This exchange comes after Ukraine took several thousand Russian prisoners during the counter-offensive in the Kharkiv region. During the night of Wednesday to Thursday, the freed Ukrainians had arrived in Turkey where some of them were able to speak by telephone with the Ukrainian head of state.