NewsUkraine fights for freedom as Mariupol heroes remain captive

Ukraine fights for freedom as Mariupol heroes remain captive

It's been over two years. Mariupol defenders still in captivity.
It's been over two years. Mariupol defenders still in captivity.
Images source: © Getty Images | Dmytro Kosmenko

5:29 AM EDT, May 21, 2024

It's been almost two years since Russia took hundreds of Ukrainian defenders of Mariupol and Azovstal prisoner. Ukrainian authorities are doing everything to bring them back to the country. Unfortunately, the latest information is terrible. As highlighted by Belsat TV, 1,600 people are still in Russian captivity.

In the spring of 2022, soldiers from the Azov regiment held the defense line at the Azovstal plant for almost two months. In mid-May, the defenders of Mariupol, under orders from the command, left the plant and surrendered. The Russian Ministry of Defense then reported that 2,439 soldiers had surrendered.

What is the current situation? Marianna Khomeryky, co-founder of the Association of Families of Azovstal Defenders, told that 900 POWs from the metalworks defense have been exchanged since May 2022.

In total, nearly 2.5 thousand Ukrainian soldiers and officers left Azovstal, of which about 1,600 are still in Russian captivity.

Russia hasn't exchanged soldiers from the Azov brigade for over a year: the last time "Azovites" were on the exchange list was on May 6, 2023.

Why aren't exchanges happening? According to lawyer Mykola Polozov, Russia simply does not want to take its soldiers out of Ukrainian captivity.

The point is that Russia is highly selective in taking its soldiers and prefers to exchange Ukrainians for, for example, Kadyrovites or specialists whose training lasts for years, such as pilots. The Kremlin is not particularly interested in 'cannon fodder' - says Polozov.

The situation is very bad. Families of soldiers who defended Azovstal told Vot Tak that they have not received messages from their loved ones for a long time and do not know when they will see the men again. Experts believe they are treated poorly by Russians, who particularly despise them for their resistance. And they won't let them go.

My husband surrendered on May 17, 2022. He was taken to a colony in Olenivka, which was blown up two months later. On July 31, Russia published lists of the dead and wounded, and my husband was on both lists. Until August 17, I didn't know if he was alive. Then a recording from a hospital in Donetsk was published on blogger Anatoliy Shariy's channel, in which my husband gave an interview - the woman said.

Mariupol celebrated "liberation". Ukraine reacted

Anton Herashchenko, advisor to the head of the Ukrainian Ministry of Internal Affairs, posted on his X profile that Mariupol, which is under Russian occupation, celebrated the "second anniversary of liberation by Russia" on Monday.

First, they destroyed Mariupol, killed thousands of residents, forced tens of thousands to flee, took their homes, brought in "new people," and now they celebrate on the bones - comments the Ukrainian politician.
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