Ukraine, Russia exchange nearly 300 prisoners in surprise swap

Russia and Ukraine conducted a major and unexpected prisoner swap on Wednesday involving almost 300 people, among whom were 10 foreigners, as well as Ukrainian commanders who defended Mariupol in early 2022, marking the largest exchange between the two sides since Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24.

The deal on Wednesday was reached with the help of Saudi Arabia and Turkey.

In the exchange, Russia released 215 Ukrainians, which included a large number of Azov fighters who sought to defend a besieged steel plant in the Ukrainian port city of Mariupol for months, before the group evacuated from the city in May in surrender to pro-Russia forces.

In return, Ukraine released 55 Russians and pro-Moscow Ukrainians and Viktor Medvedchuk, the leader of a banned pro-Russian party, who was facing treason charges.

Al Jazeera’s Gabriel Elizondo reports from Kyiv, Ukraine.

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