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Russia, Ukraine exchange 144 prisoners of war each

Ukrainian prisoners of war who were released as part of a prisoner swap with Russia walk toward the Ukrainian side of the border at an undisclosed location on Friday. Photo courtesy of the Defense Intelligence Ministry of Defense of Ukraine/EPA-EFE
Ukrainian prisoners of war who were released as part of a prisoner swap with Russia walk toward the Ukrainian side of the border at an undisclosed location on Friday. Photo courtesy of the Defense Intelligence Ministry of Defense of Ukraine/EPA-EFE

June 29 (UPI) -- Russian and Ukrainian officials have negotiated the release of 144 prisoners of war from each side, the biggest such swap since the start of the war, Ukrainian officials announced Wednesday.

Among the Ukrainians released in the swap were 95 fighters who helped defend the Azovtal steel plant in Mariupol. Hundreds of fighters and civilians were holed up in the plant as part of the city's last stand against the Russian invasion of the city.

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The Hill reported the Ukrainian fighters included 59 from the national guard, 30 from the navy, 28 from the armed forces, 17 from the State Border Service, nine from territorial defense and one from the National Police.

"This is the largest exchange since the start of the full-scale Russian invasion," Ukrainian military intelligence said in a message on Telegram.

The post said most of the Ukrainian prisoners had serious injuries and were receiving medical treatment.

"Most released Ukrainians have serious injuries: fire and fragment wounds, explosive injuries, burns, fractures, limbs amputations," the message continued.

Denis Pushilin, head of the pro-Russian separatist Donbas People's Republic, said 144 Russian soldiers were also released.

"We handed over to Kyiv the same number of prisoners from the Ukrainian armed forces, most of whom were wounded. Our main task is to rescue the fighters who took part in a special military operation," he said, according to The Guardian.

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