Ukraine and Russia exchanged hundreds of prisoners of war in an exchange conducted just days after the crash of a Russian transport plane carrying dozens of captured Ukrainian troops.
The Wednesday exchange saw Russia turn over 207 Ukrainian troops, while Ukraine released 195 Russians, according to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. The exchange is the first to occur since last week’s crash. Moscow accused Ukraine of shooting down last week’s transport, which it says was headed to make another prisoner swap.
“Our people are back. 207 of them. We return them home no matter what. We remember each Ukrainian in captivity. Both warriors and civilians. We must bring all of them back. We are working on it. The Ukrainian team has done another excellent job. Budanov, Yermak, Usov, Maliuk, and Klymenko. Well done!” Zelenskyy wrote on X.
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday claimed that a Ukrainian missile shot down the military transport plane carrying 65 Ukrainian prisoners of war and nine Russians last week.
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“Knowing (the POWs were aboard), they attacked this plane. I don’t know whether they did it on purpose or by mistake, through thoughtlessness,” Putin claimed.
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Ukraine has neither confirmed nor denied that its forces shot down a Russian military transport plane that day. Russia’s claim that the crash killed Ukranian POWs could not be verified, according to the AP.
Ukrainian officials did confirm earlier this week that a prisoner exchange had been scheduled to happen Wednesday but said at the time that it had been called off. The officials added that Moscow had not requested for any airspace to be kept safe for a certain length of time, as it had for previous prisoner swaps.
Russia and Ukraine have agreed to numerous prisoner swaps over the past two years of conflict, but it was not clear until today’s exchange that that pattern would continue following last week’s disaster.
Fox News’ Chris Pandolfo contributed to this report.
Source: Fox News