Ukraine returned 215 defenders of Mariupol from Russian captivity, 108 of them were Azov regiment fighters. This was reported by the head of the Office of the President, Andriy Yermak, on the evening of September 21.
A representative of the Security Service of Ukraine reported that they were exchanged for Putinʼs crony Viktor Medvedchuk and 55 Russian soldiers, details will be given in further briefings. "It is not a pity to give Medvedchuk for real soldiers, he has passed all the investigative actions provided for by law. Ukraine received from him everything needed to establish the truth in criminal proceedings," President Zelensky said.
Commanders Denys Prokopenko, Serhiy Volynsky, Svyatoslav Palamar, Denys Shlega, and Oleg Khomenko — commanders from Azovstal — were released from captivity. They are in Ankara, where they arrived under exchange agreements. President Zelensky clarified that they will be in Turkey until the end of the war, their families will be able to see them.
Among others, Mykola Kush and Kostyantyn Nikitenko were released from captivity — the Russia-backed separatists sentenced them to death.
Military medic Kateryna Polishchuk with the call sign "Ptashka", as well as pregnant Maryana Mamonova, Valentina Zubko, Yana Shumovetska, Zoryana Repetska and Anastasia Chernenka were also released from captivity.
Here is the full list of those released from captivity (in Ukrainian):
This exchange is the largest since February 24. The process of rehabilitation, adaptation, recovery and treatment awaits the released defenders.
On the afternoon of September 21, it became known that the Russian authorities handed over 10 foreigners captured in Ukraine to Saudi Arabia.
- On the night of July 29, explosions rang out in the colony in the occupied city of Olenivka, Donetsk region, where the Russians held Ukrainian prisoners of war from Azovstal. The Russians said that it was the AFU that was hit with HIMARS. However, the General Staff of Ukraine stated that the detention center was fired upon by the Russians themselves in order to accuse Ukraine of "war crimes" and to cover up torture of prisoners and executions. More than 40 Ukrainian prisoners of war were killed and 130 were injured in the shelling. Previously, the Russians struck with a thermobaric weapon.
- On July 30, the Russian Ministry of Defense published a list of Ukrainian prisoners of war who allegedly died as a result of a terrorist attack. There are 48 dead in the list, and 73 names in the list of wounded. Ukraine asks people not to trust these lists, because they are unofficial.