Ukraine and Russia exchanged almost 300 prisoners – a surprising agreement in the middle of the war

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More than two hundred Mariupol fighters were returned to Ukraine, and ten foreigners captured by Russia were released. Russia arrested more than 50 people in Ukraine and a wealthy oligarch.

14:03•Updated 14:04

In the shadow of Ukraine’s counterattack and Russia’s declaration of a partial suspension of operations, the warring parties have agreed on the largest exchange of prisoners to date. Turkey and Saudi Arabia act as mediators.

225 Ukrainian fighters were able to return to their homeland. The main part of them had been captured by Russia after the siege of Mariupol and belonged to the Azov regiment that put up a fierce resistance.

Military commanders to Turkey

In a triumphant TV speech, the President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyi praised the defenders of the Azovstal steel plant as heroes.

He thanked the President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdoğan with this help as an intermediary.

According to Zelenskyi, the tipping point of the negotiations was the release of five military commanders. According to the agreement, these will now end up in Turkey to wait for the end of the war.

The foreign fighters avoided the death sentence

Ten foreigners who fought in the ranks of Ukraine were also released, including one Swede, one Croatian, and one from the United States. Three of the foreign fighters – two Britons and a Moroccan – thus avoided the death sentence handed down by a court in the Russian-backed Donetsk “People’s Republic”.

In July, uutiset reported on the concern of a Moroccan-born Finn for his imprisoned brother.

We could now save their lives, Zelenskyi rejoiced, and thanked Saudi Arabia for assisting in the release of the foreigners.

A pro-Russian oligarch for Russia

In the exchange of prisoners, a Ukrainian oligarch was handed over to Russia Viktor Medvedchuk, who was awaiting a treason charge and trial in Ukraine. According to Zelenskyi, the interrogation of the money man, who is considered to be pro-Russian, had already been completed.

In addition, Ukraine released 55 people whom Zelenskyi characterized as traitors. He did not mention their names.

In contrast, the president praised many of those who were freed in Ukraine by name, calling some “superheroes”.

Pregnant women to freedom

Many of those who fought at the Azovstal steelworks appeared to be in poor condition after siege fighting and Russian captivity. There are also wounded among them.

Zelenskyi reminded separately that among the women who have now reached Ukraine there are also expectant mothers, and said that he was especially happy about their release.

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