Ukraine and Russia announced Wednesday they would exchange 144 soldiers each, making this the largest prisoner swap since the war began in February.
"During a large-scale exchange, 144 defenders of Ukraine were released from captivity," the Defense Intelligence arm of Ukraine's Defense Ministry wrote on Facebook.
According to Axios, of the 144 soldiers returning to Ukraine, 95 of them fought in a months-long battle to defend the Azovstal steel factory in Mariupol, which, according to sources, was the last foothold of Ukrainian resistance in the city.
"Most of the released Ukrainians have serious injuries," the Defense Ministry adds, including "gunshot and shrapnel wounds, explosive injuries, burns, fractures, amputations of limbs." But "all of them receive proper medical and psychological assistance."
Over 2,500 Ukrainian troops laid down their arms in May after Russian forces captured Mariupol, The New York Times reported. More than a dozen prisoner exchanges between Russia and Ukraine have occurred since the start of the invasion. On Tuesday, the Associated Press reported that Ukraine exchanged 15 Russian prisoners of war for one civilian and 16 Ukrainian POWs.
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