The Ministry of Defense of Russia reported that on January 31, 195 prisoners of war of the Ukrainian Armed Forces were handed over to Ukraine, and 195 Russian servicemen were returned from Ukrainian captivity.
President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy wrote in the Telegram channel that 207 people returned to Ukraine as a result of the exchange. According to “RBK-Ukraine”, the oldest of those released is 61 years old, the youngest is 20 years old. At least 36 of the transferred prisoners have injuries or serious illnesses.
This is the first exchange of prisoners after the crash of the Il-76 plane in the Belgorod Region on January 24. According to the statement of the Ministry of Defense of Russia, there were 65 Ukrainian prisoners of war on board the plane, who were transported to Belgorod for exchange. Russian officials said that the plane was shot down by Ukraine.
Representatives of the Ukrainian authorities, including President Volodymyr Zelenskyi, neither confirmed nor denied the Russian version of what happened to the plane and the prisoners who were to be exchanged. They confirmed that the exchange was indeed prepared and did not take place, accused Russia of using the issue of the fate of the prisoners to influence public opinion in Ukraine, and called for an international investigation into the disaster.