Live updates: Russia’s war in Ukraine
Pro-Kremlin Ukrainian opposition politician Viktor Medvedchuk, who was captured back in April, is being exchanged with Russia as part of a prisoner swap, according to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
Zelensky said 200 Ukrainian prisoners had returned home in exchange for Medvedchuk.
“At first, we were offered to return 50 of our people in exchange for one of those in the detention center of the Security Service of Ukraine. We talked. We insisted. The number of 50 increased to 200,” Zelensky said during his nightly address.
Vasyl Maliuk, the acting head of the Ukrainian security service, said Medvedchuk “is not just a godfather to Putin’s child, but also a documented by us as a traitor.”
“Moreover, while working on the Medvedchuk case, we have neutralized multiple agent networks, detained multiple traitors, and received a lot of valuable information that we are using for counterintelligence and will bring us closer to our victory,” Maliuk added.
Five Ukrainian commanders were included in the prisoner swap, as were 55 prisoners to be sent to Russia, according to Zelensky.
It’s unclear whether the 55 prisoners are all Russians or pro-Russians, but Zelensky described them as people “who fought against Ukraine, and those who betrayed Ukraine.”
According to Andrii Yermak, head of the Office of the President of Ukraine, a total of 215 prisoners of war have been released as part of an exchange of POWs between Russia and Ukraine, including ten foreign prisoners.
Among those freed today from captivity, there are 108 Azov fighters and other formations,” Yermak said. Those fighters from the controversial Azov Battalion, part of the National Guard of Ukraine, which Russia has previously called neo-Nazis.
Yermak also said 10 foreigners were among those swapped.
“Based on the requests of our international partners, we have also returned 10 foreign defenders of Ukraine. These are the representatives of those countries, who assist us the most – the United States, Great Britain, Croatia, Sweden and Morocco,” Yermak said.
The head of the State Property Fund, Rustem Umerov, said, “They are safe and liberated from captivity. We are currently in the Saudi Arabia capital – Riyadh. The further safe transfer is planned from here to their countries with our partners.” Yermak added.
The Coordinating Headquarters for the Treatment of Prisoners of War (CHTPW), a government institution under the Defense Intelligence, said five British and two Americans are among the ten foreign prisoners.
“It should be noted that the release of foreign soldiers from captivity took place as part of the largest exchange since the full-scale invasion of Russia,” CHTPW said Thursday.
“The liberated heroes are waiting for rehabilitation and adaptation; they will receive the necessary treatment,” CHTPW added.