108 Women Freed in Swap With Russia In What Ukraine Says Is First All-Female Exchange

Two women being reunited after prisoner swap between Ukraine and RussiaTwo women being reunited after prisoner swap between Ukraine and Russia
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After several months of war, over 100 women being held prisoner were exchanged between Ukraine and Russia.

On Monday, Russia announced a swap of over 100 prisoners with Russia, according to reports.

After almost eight months of war, this was the first all-female exchange with Moscow, Andriy Yermak, chief of staff for the Ukraine president's office, claimed in a statement via Telegram.

"Another large-scale exchange of prisoners of war was carried out today... we freed 108 women from captivity. It was the first all-female exchange," Yermak wrote.

During his daily address, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy thanked everyone involved for the success of the swap and said, “...the more Russian prisoners we have, the sooner we will be able to free our heroes."

According to a statement from Russia’s ministry of defense, the head of the breakaway region of Donetsk in eastern Ukraine, confirmed the exchange, saying that out of 110 people agreed upon in the swap, two people had decided to remain in Russia.

According to The Guardian, this exchange included dozens who were captured during the Azovstal steelworks siege in Mariupol in May. Yermak said on the Ukraine side, some of these people exchanged were mothers and daughters who had been held together, according to the statement.

An example is medic Viktoria Obidina, who was released back to Ukraine, who said the group had no idea they would be exchanged until moments before, according to The Guardian.

Obidina had originally been with her 4-year-old daughter, but the two then became separated.

“I will go to see my daughter. I want to see her so bad,” she told local media.

Mykola Kuleba, Ukraine’s former children’s ombudsman —or public advocate, often between the public and immigration —  said Obidina's relatives took care of her daughter while she had been held.

“The little Alisa will soon be able to hug her mom! I’m happy for the family and overjoyed that they will be reunited,” Kuleba wrote in a Facebook post. 

The Russian defense ministry said 72 people returned from Ukraine were crew of civilian ships held by Ukraine since February, and all those returned would be flown to Moscow and provided with medical and psychological assistance, according to CBS.

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