Russia and Ukraine exchanged hundreds of prisoners of war after a prisoner exchange was brokered by Turkey and Saudi Arabia. Among them were fighters from the Azovstal plant.
Prisoner exchange between Russia and Ukraine: Ukrainians commanders being released
Among those freed were several commanders of the Azov regiment
Ukraine announced the release of 215 imprisoned soldiers and 10 foreigners from Russia on Thursday.
The soliders were released in exchange for 55 Russian prisoners, as well as Victor Medvedchuck, leader of the banned pro-Russia political party in Ukraine. Among the released were fighters who led the defense of Mariupol's Azovstal's steelworks, an act that has been hailed as an icon of Ukrainian resistance.
"We have managed to liberate 215 people," the Ukraine presidency's chief of staff Andriy Yermak announced on television. He went on to say that commanders of the Azov battalion were included in those released.
The Azov regiment is a unit of the National Guard of Ukraine. It gained attention fighting pro-Russian separatists in the Donbas region since 2014.
Victor Medvedchuck, said to be Putin's right hand man in Ukraine, is a Ukrainian politician who has been charged for alleged treason for his involvement with Russia. He was captured by Ukrainian forces in April.
Support from Turkey and Saudi Arabia
Yermak went on to thank Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Twitter, saying that the Azov commanders were already safe in Turkey thanks to "personal arrangements" between Zelenskyy and Erdogan.