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Over 900 Ukrainian soldiers who defended Mariupol still in Russian captivity – Azov brigade commander

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Lieutenant Colonel Denys ‘Redis’ Prokopenko, Commander of the Azov 12th Special Operations Brigade of the National Guard of Ukraine, has said that over 900 Azov fighters who defended Mariupol in spring 2022 remain in Russian captivity. He has urged relevant officials and agencies to make every effort to free them.

Source: Denys Prokopenko on Facebook

Quote: “Another prisoner exchange has taken place, with 207 Ukrainian soldiers coming back home. I am happy for everyone who was granted freedom and I wish them the speediest recovery […]

However my joy over their return is clouded by the fact that the families of soldiers who defended Mariupol as part of the Azov Regiment will not see the names of their loved ones on the lists of those who had been brought back […]

Over 900 Azov fighters remain in Russian captivity, people who had defended Mariupol with dignity and who had prevented the enemy from redeploying their forces and equipment to develop their offensive on the Zaporizhzhia front.”

Details: Prokopenko said that two soldiers from the Azov 12th Special Operations Brigade of the National Guard of Ukraine were released as part of prisoner exchange on 31 January 2024. The two servicemen had joined the brigade after the Azov Regiment became the Azov Brigade.

Prokopenko also said that very few Azov fighters have been brought back to Ukraine as part of prisoner swaps since the beginning of Russia’s full-scale invasion, “even though more than 18 months have passed since the order to withdraw from Mariupol was issued.”

Prokopenko said that the fighters from the 12th Special Operations Brigade are now fighting with Russian occupation forces in the woods surrounding Kreminna in Ukraine’s east, where they are killing and capturing Russian soldiers. He added that everyone in the brigade continues to believe that the “relevant agencies are doing everything they can to free our heroes.”

Background:

  • Another 207 Ukrainian prisoners of war were brought back to Ukraine as part of the 50th prisoner swap between Russia and Ukraine, which took place on 31 January 2024.

  • The released prisoners of war include 95 soldiers of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, 56 National Guardsmen, 26 border guards, 29 Territorial Defence fighters and a representative of the National Police of Ukraine.

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