Ukraine secured the release of 106 captured soldiers in a prisoner exchange with Russia on Thursday, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s chief of staff said. The soldiers, including eight officers, were captured fighting in the devastated eastern city of Bakhmut that Russia says it has captured, but where Kyiv’s forces say they still have a small foothold.
“Every one of them is a hero of our state. Many of the ones we are returning from captivity were considered missing. The relatives of these people have gone through a difficult time,”the senior official, Andriy Yermak, said.
Tatiana Moskalkova, Russia’s human rights ombudsman, confirmed Russia’s Wagner private military unit took part in an exchange of fighters on Thursday, but gave no further details. Wagner played a key role in Russia’s months-long onslaught on the city of Bakhmut where both sides likened the ferocious fighting to a “meatgrinder”.
Russia launched a full-scale invasion of its neighbour in February 2022. Ukrainian military intelligence says that 2,430 Ukrainians have been freed in prisoner swaps, including 139 civilians.