June 24, 2024 10:29 am

Ukraine war: Moscow and Kyiv swap women prisoners for sailors

Russia has exchanged 108 Ukrainian women held as prisoners of war for 110 Russian captives held by Ukraine, officials on both sides say.

Of the women, 37 were reportedly captured after surrendering at the siege of the Azovstal steel works in Mariupol, which ended in May.

Most of the Russians freed are sailors from merchant ships held in Ukraine.

They also include members of pro-Russian separatist military units from the Donbas in eastern Ukraine.

Daylight photos were released of the Ukrainian women boarding coaches in an unspecified area and later of them arriving after dark in government-held territory in the southern region of Zaporizhzhia.

Image caption,

The freed Ukrainians were taken to safety in coaches

The Ukrainian presidency’s chief of staff, Andriy Yermak, confirmed on social media that 108 women had been released in the “first all-female exchange”.

He said they included mothers and daughters who had been held captive together. All but 12 of them are servicewomen, he said.

Denis Pushilin, the top Russian-backed official in the breakaway part of Ukraine’s Donetsk region, confirmed the swap, but said two detainees had decided to remain in Russia. Kyiv has not commented on this.

According to Mr Pushilin, the prisoners freed by Ukraine are 80 sailors and 30 service personnel.

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