Ukraine says 108 women have been released in exchanges with Russia in first all-women exchange
Ukraine announced on Monday that it had exchanged more than 100 prisoners with Russia in what was the first all-female exchange with Moscow after nearly eight months of war.
“Today another large-scale exchange of prisoners of war took place … we freed 108 women from captivity. It was the first all-female exchange,” Andriy Yermak, chief of staff at the Office of the President of Ukraine, said on social media.
In his daily address late Monday, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said: “96 (of the exchanged prisoners) are servicewomen, including 37 evacuees from Azovstal, and 12 are civilians.”
Zelenskyj thanked “everyone involved for this success… the more Russian prisoners we have, the sooner we can free our heroes.”
The head of the breakaway Donetsk region in eastern Ukraine, Denis Pushilin, confirmed the exchange and said that out of 110 people who agreed to the exchange, two people chose to remain in Russia.
That Russian The Defense Ministry said 72 people returned from Ukraine were crews of civilian ships that have been detained by Ukraine since February. All those who returned would be flown to Moscow and given medical and psychological care.
Yermak said on the Ukrainian side that some of the people exchanged were mothers and daughters who had been kept together. Thirty-seven, he said, surrendered at the Azovstal Steel Works in Mariupol.
Images released by Yermak showed dozens of women – some in overcoats and military fatigues – disembarking from white buses.
Mariupol, a port city on the Azov Sea in south-eastern Ukraine, resisted relentless Russian bombardment for weeks, with resistance concentrated in a dense network of underground tunnels at the Azovstal Steelworks.