Russia frees 215 Ukrainians held after Mariupol battle, Ukraine says By Reuters

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By David Ljunggren

(Reuters) -Russia has launched 215 Ukrainians it took prisoner after a protracted battle for the port metropolis of Mariupol earlier this yr, together with prime navy leaders, a senior official in Kyiv mentioned on Wednesday.

The freed prisoners embody the commander and deputy commander of the Azov battalion that did a lot of the preventing, mentioned Andriy Yermak, the pinnacle of President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s workplace.

The transfer is sudden, since Russian-backed separatists final month mentioned there can be a trial of Azov personnel, who Moscow describes as Nazis. Ukraine denies the cost.

In a press release, Yermak mentioned the freed prisoners included Azov commander Lieutenant Colonel Denys Prokopenko and his deputy, Svyatoslav Palamar.

Additionally at liberty is Serhiy Volynsky, the commander of the thirty sixth Marine Brigade of the Ukrainian Armed Forces.

The three males had helped lead a dogged weeks-long resistance from the bunkers and tunnels under Mariupol’s large metal works earlier than they and tons of of Azov fighters surrendered in Might to Russian-backed forces.

Yermak mentioned that in return, Kyiv had freed 55 Russian prisoners in addition to Viktor Medvedchuk, the chief of a banned pro-Russian social gathering who was dealing with treason fees.

Public broadcaster Suspline mentioned the trade had occurred close to the northern Ukrainian metropolis of Chernihiv.

Earlier within the day, Saudi Arabia mentioned Russia had launched 10 international prisoners of battle captured in Ukraine following mediation by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Final month, the pinnacle of the Russian-backed separatist administration within the jap Ukrainian area of Donetsk mentioned a trial of captured Azov personnel would happen by the tip of the summer time.

The Azov unit, fashioned in 2014 as a militia to battle Russian-backed separatists, denies being fascist, and Ukraine says it has been reformed from its radical nationalist origins.

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