Ukraine and Russia swap 202 prisoners, including soldiers who defended Mariupol.

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Ukraine and Russia exchanged prisoners of war on Thursday, officials from both countries said, including 63 Ukrainian soldiers who had made the last stand at the Azovstal steel plant in the southern city of Mariupol.

The plant was subject to an 80-day siege early in the war that became emblematic of Ukrainian resistance to Russia’s invasion.

Dozens of swaps have freed nearly 2,000 Ukrainians over almost a year of war. The newly freed Ukrainians included 100 soldiers and one civilian. Those released were on a list of the wounded that Ukraine gave to the Russians during a meeting in Turkey, which has been mediating the swaps, Ukrainian officials said.

“I am happy for each of the more than a hundred Ukrainian families whose sons, brothers and husbands are returning,” President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine said, announcing the swap.

The civilian who was released as part of the exchange was the deputy mayor of the city of Enerhodar, according to Ukrainian officials. The city, near the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, fell to Russian control in the first days of the invasion.

Russia’s Ministry of Defense also said that it had secured the release of 101 soldiers.

In 2022, after 10 months of war, the two sides had carried out 35 prisoner exchanges through which 1,600 Ukrainians were returned home, according to Ukrainian officials. They said in December that thousands more remained in Russian custody.

“We keep working,” Andriy Yermak, a top aide to Mr. Zelensky, wrote on Twitter on Thursday. “We’ll get everyone home.”

Thursday’s release was at least the third exchange this year. Ukrainian officials have said that 50 soldiers were released in early January and 116 more on Feb 4.


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