Russia, Ukraine exchanged 200 prisoners of war under Türkiye's initiative: Erdoğan
Russia and Ukraine exchanged 200 prisoners of war on Sept. 21 as a result of Türkiye's mediation and diplomatic traffic conducted with the leaders of the two countries, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said, Qazet.az reports.
Erdoğan told reporters in New York that the prisoner exchange under Türkiye's mediation was an "important step" towards ending the war between the two countries.
Russia received 55 prisoners including Viktor Medvedchuk, a former Ukrainian lawmaker and ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin accused of high treason, Ukraine’s leader Volodymyr Zelensky said in his daily address.
The swap was the biggest exchange between the warring sides since the start of Russia’s invasion in February.
Ten prisoners of war from countries including the United States and Britain were earlier on Wednesday transferred to Saudi Arabia as part of the exchange between Moscow and Kyiv, Zelensky said.
"We have managed to liberate 215 people," Ukraine’s presidential chief of staff Andriy Yermak announced on television.
Zelensky said five military commanders including leaders of the defence of Azovstal were taken to Türkiye as part of the operation prepared well in advance and agreed with Erdoğan.
The released prisoners will remain in Türkiye "in total security and in comfortable conditions" until the end of the war, Zelensky added.
The Ukrainian forces’ longstanding refusal to surrender at Azovstal despite shortages of ammunition and supplies earned them praise across the country for their heroism in defying overwhelming odds against Russia’s superior numbers and firepower.