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Ukraine and Russia Swap Tons of of Prisoners of Battle


Ukraine handed over a key ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin in alternate for a whole lot of prisoners of struggle together with many captured in a landmark battle, a swap that outraged pro-Kremlin propagandists.

Viktor Medvedchuk was considered one of 55 individuals turned over to Russia in return for 215 Ukrainian prisoners, together with 188 who held out for months towards Russian assault on the Azovstal metal plant within the port metropolis of Mariupol early within the struggle. Among the many group that was returned to the federal government in Kyiv had been 108 members of the Azov brigade, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy mentioned in a statement late Wednesday.

Learn extra: How Ukraine Turned the Tide Against Russia

“It’s not a pity to present Medvedchuk in alternate for actual warriors,” Zelenskiy mentioned. These handed over to Russia included “individuals who fought towards Ukraine. And those that betrayed Ukraine,” he mentioned.

Medvedchuk, a Ukrainian citizen, was indicted on prices of treason and terrorist financing final yr in a case that Putin known as political. The tycoon who led the pro-Russia Opposition Platform occasion that was banned following the invasion, fled home arrest when the struggle began however was later captured by Ukrainian forces. He visited Moscow on quite a few events and met with Putin, who endorsed Medvedchuk in 2019 parliamentary elections.

Learn extra: The Untold Story of the Ukraine Crisis

5 Ukrainian commanders had been additionally freed as a part of the deal provided that they spent the remainder of the struggle in Turkey below the private safety of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Zelenskiy mentioned. 5 UK residents, two Individuals and three different foreigners had been additionally launched as a part of mediation efforts involving Saudi Arabia, he mentioned.

Russian struggle bloggers and nationalist commentators reacted furiously to the discharge of Azov fighters that state tv and Kremlin officers have sought to forged as “Nazis” for months in efforts to justify Putin’s invasion. Many highlighted the timing of the swap on the identical day as Putin ordered a mobilization in Russia to name up 300,000 reservists to combat in Ukraine.

Learn extra: Ukraine’s Offensive Is Pushing Russia Back—And Raising the Risks of Escalation

Police detained about 1,400 individuals at protests in 38 Russian cities Wednesday towards the mobilization order, in keeping with the OVD-Information monitoring group. Among the male detainees had been handed draft notices.

The prisoner alternate with Ukraine is “unbelievable stupidity,” Igor Girkin, a former Russian intelligence colonel who grew to become a commander of pro-Moscow separatists in jap Ukraine in 2014, mentioned on his Telegram channel that has greater than 600,000 followers. The discharge of Azov commanders amounted to “treachery” by officers, making a mockery of the call-up to combat for Russia.

Learn extra: What the West Will Never Understand About Putin’s Ukraine Obsession

The speaker of Russia’s decrease home of parliament, Vyacheslav Volodin, had mentioned in June that captured Azov fighters had been individuals with “fingers coated in blood” who would face trial.

Ukrainians regard the Azovstal defenders as heroes for his or her resistance towards overwhelming odds earlier than they had been taken prisoner by Russia as a part of a give up settlement in Could handy over the large steelworks.

Zelenskiy had provided Medvedchuk as a part of a possible swap in April. At the moment, Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov mentioned “Medvedchuk isn’t a Russian citizen. He has nothing to do with the particular navy operation.”

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