Heart-warming scenes as more than 100 Ukrainian female prisoners released

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Emotional scenes have been caught on camera as more than 100 Ukrainian women held captive by Russia were released.

Draped in Ukrainian flags and hugging loved ones, friends and relatives the women were bused into Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine, last night.

Their release marks one of the biggest prisoners of war (POW) swaps of the war with 218 detainees exchanged – 108 Ukrainian women and 110 Russian civilian sailors and military personnel.

According to the head of the Donetsk People’s Republic, Denis Pushilin, each side was expected to release 110 prisoners but his side handed over only 108 Ukrainians because two wanted to stay in Russia, Sky News reports.

As these photographs show the female prisoners were greeted as they disembarked from buses in Zaporizhzhia, on the Dnieper River in the centre of Ukraine.

The city has been the site of heavy fighting between Russian and Ukrainian forces lying as it does at a vital strategic crossing point.

Of the Ukrainians, 12 were civilians and 37 had been captured by Russian forces after the fall of the Azovstal steelworks in the port city of Mariupol in May.

A Ukrainian medic Viktoria Obidina told Sky News the group had no idea they would be exchanged until the last moment.

She said she had been separated from her young daughter when Mariupol fell and said after her release: “I will go to see my daughter – I want to see her so bad.”

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy referenced the prisoner swap in his address to the nation on the night.

He said: “Among those released today are those who were captured long before the full-scale war.

“We do not forget about any of our people – we have to return them all. And we will return them all.”

Ukrainian authorities have encouraged the armed forces to take more Russian invading troops prisoner so they can be used for future prisoner swaps.

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He said: “The more Russian prisoners we have, the sooner we will be able to free our heroes. Every Ukrainian warrior, every frontline commander should remember this.

“I am grateful to all involved for this success, and I also thank all those who replenish our exchange fund, who ensure the capture of enemies.”



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