1 of 5 | Russia on Monday released 108 Ukrainian prisoners of war on Monday in a prisoner swap between the two countries. Photo by Ukrainian President Press Office/UPI | License Photo
Oct. 17 (UPI) -- Kyiv and Moscow carried out a prisoner swap on Monday involving more than 200 people, officials said, prompting Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to urge his forces to capture more Russians to secure the release of Ukrainian prisoners of war.
The president made the comment during his nightly address Monday, stating, "the more Russian prisoners we have the sooner we will be able to free our heroes."
"Every Ukrainian warrior, every frontline commander should remember this."
His remarks came hours after the warring nations exchanged a total of 218 prisoners. Officials said 108 Ukrainian women were released from Russian captivity while Kyiv handed over 110 of the Kremlin's forces to Moscow.
Andriy Yermak, Zelensky's chief of staff, said in a statement on Telegram that 37 of the women released to Kyiv had been captured from Mariupol's Azovstal iron and steel works facility. There were Ukrainian civilians and troops holed up for weeks under Russian bombardments. Twelve civilians were also released, he said.
Among those released were some who were arrested as far back as 2019 by pro-Russian separatists in the eastern Ukrainian regions of Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts.
"Captured were moms and daughters who were very much awaited by their relatives," he said on Twitter, adding that all those released will now undergo medical examinations and rehabilitation.
"They will hug their relatives, their children -- recover," he said.
Denis Pushilin, the Russian-backed head of the Kremlin annexed Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine, confirmed the prisoner swap in a statement published to his Telegram account, stating 110 Russians were returned to Moscow.
"Today, there is an exchange, according to the formula 110 for 110," he said, stating Moscow received 80 so-called civilian sailors and 30 military service members.
The prisoner swap is the latest to be conducted between the two countries, and comes after Ukraine and Russia exchanged dozens of prisoners of war last week.
Last month, the two countries swapped nearly 300 prisoners, including two Americans who had fought alongside Ukraine.