The First Defenders of “Azovstal” in Ukraine

by Olha Povaliaieva
Thursday, June 30, 2022
The First Defenders of “Azovstal” in Ukraine

On 29 June, an exchange of prisoners of war took place, including the release of 93 Mariupol fighters

The Ukrainian POW coordination headquarters reported that 144 defenders returned to Ukraine. Among those who have already been able to return to the territory controlled by Ukraine:

  • 59 members of the national guard;
  • 30 marines;
  • 17 border guards;
  • 9 employees in territorial defense;
  • 28 members of the armed forces of Ukraine;
  • 1 policeman.

The largest number of prisoners of war who returned home were captured by Russian soldiers in Mariupol, including at the Azovstal factory during the voluntary surrender. Russia gave 93 fighters from the metallurgical plant. According to an official source, most men have serious injuries and other health problems. Many fighters have gunshot and shrapnel wounds, blast injuries, burns, fractures, and amputated limbs. Ukrainians will be provided with medical and psychological assistance at home.

"Almost all of them, 99% without arms, without legs. Some can't hear, some can't see, but their eyes are happy. Some guys talk with tears in their eyes, some can't talk. Now, I think they're on their way. The guys from this exchange need urgent medical assistance, examination", Tetyana Kharko, a member of the Association of families of defenders of Azovstal and the sister of the captured commander Volyna. The fate of Volyna is unknown yet. 

Among the released fighters of Azovstal were 23 officers and 69 people who belonged to the sergeant's rank. The senior Ukrainian soldier, who was held captive for more than a few months — 65 years, the youngest — 19.

It is worth noting that this is the largest number of single-release people in all the months of the war. However, the country still has more than 900 defenders of Azovstal and Mariupol. The Russian Federation has sentenced some of them to death.

You will be interested