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WorldRussia and Ukraine swap prisoners of war for the first time in...

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Russia and Ukraine swap prisoners of war for the first time in three months

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Ukraine and Russia traded prisoners of war on Friday. Each country sent back 75 POWs. This is the first swap of its kind in the past three months, officials said.

The Ukrainian prisoners, including four people who were not soldiers, were brought back to the northern Sumy region on buses. They shouted happily as they got off the boat and called their families to say they were back home. Some people knelt down and kissed the ground, while others covered themselves with yellow-blue flags.

They hugged each other and started crying. Many looked very thin and wore clothes that were not good.

The exchange was the fourth time this year that prisoners were swapped, and it was the 52nd time since Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022. The Foreign Ministry in Kyiv said that the United Arab Emirates helped to arrange the release of 150 prisoners of war.

Both sides are blaming each other for a decrease in the swaps.

Ukraine has asked Russia before to exchange all prisoners and there are weekly protests in Ukraine asking for the release of prisoners of war. A Ukrainian official named Vitalii Matviienko said that Ukraine is always prepared to coordinate exchanges at the headquarters.

Tatyana Moskalkova, who is responsible for protecting people’s rights in Russia, said that Kyiv is asking for new things without explaining what they are.

On Friday, one of the people who came back to Ukraine was Roman Onyschuk. He works in IT and he joined the Ukrainian forces as a volunteer when the Russian invasion began. He was caught in March 2022 in the Kharkiv area.

“I just want to listen to my wife and son talking. ” He said he missed his friend’s birthday three times. He was in captivity for over 800 days and did not talk to his family. He doesn’t know what city they are in now.

“It’s a bit too much to handle,” Onyschuk said.

Ukraine has received a total of 3,210 Ukrainian soldiers and civilians back since the war began, including those coming back on Friday.

Ukraine and Russia do not say how many prisoners of war there are.

Dmytro Kantypenko was taken as a prisoner on Snake Island in the Black Sea at the beginning of the war. He was one of the people who were released on Friday. He called his mother to tell her that he was back in Ukraine.

“He said he will come home soon and wiped his tears. ” He found out that his wife had gone to Lithuania with their son. The Kantypenko family is from Izium in the Kharkiv region, which was taken over by Russia.

Kantypenko said that the Russians unexpectedly woke him up in the middle of the night without saying why, and gave him only a little time to get dressed before leaving.

The UN found out that most Ukrainian prisoners of war are not getting proper medical care, they are being mistreated and even tortured. The reports also discovered a few cases of Russian soldiers being mistreated, usually when they were captured or being taken to internment sites.

The Coordination Headquarters for the Treatment of POWs says that at least one-third of Ukrainians who came back home had injuries, severe illnesses, or disabilities.

On Friday, 19 Ukrainian fighters came back from Snake Island, 14 people were released from Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, and 10 fighters returned from Mariupol city which was taken by Russia.

Five women were released from being prisoners in Ukraine. One of them was Nataliia Manuilova, who was a cook in the Azov regiment and was held captive for over two years. The Russians grabbed her from her home in Mariupol, put a bag over her head, and tied her hands, she said.

I don’t like them. “They stole two years of my life,” she said, hugging her son on Friday. Nataliia Manuilova said, “I can’t believe how much he has grown up. ”

The prisoners traveled through little towns. Then they went to Sumy where they would go to hospitals for two weeks to get better.

Ukrainians with blue and yellow flags went out on the streets and cheered loudly for their military members returning home.

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