More Russian soldiers released from Ukrainian captivity (VIDEO)
Moscow and Kiev have conducted another major prisoner swap, with some 50 Russian servicemen released on Thursday in exchange for captured Ukrainian troops.
The Russian Defense Ministry said they were rescued from “mortal danger.” The news follows the release of a video last week which depicted the summary execution of Russian POWs.
Footage shared by the Russian military on Thursday shows a large group of servicemen shortly after the exchange, sharing their emotions on camera, with some finally being able to talk to relatives on the phone.
While the released soldiers are eager to meet their families, they have to undergo psychological and physical rehabilitation first. One of the servicemen said he was refused medical treatment for four months despite heart problems, while another said he was trying to forget the horrors of captivity.
This was the second prisoner swap between Russia and Ukraine in the span of a week, with the sides trading 36 POWs on Wednesday.
Being a prisoner in Ukraine constituted a “mortal danger” for the soldiers, the Russian military said in a statement, apparently referring to a variety of mistreatment and outright torture Russian servicemen experienced at the hands of Kiev’s forces.
Last week, shocking videos of a summary execution of Russian soldiers surfaced online, with Moscow accusing Kiev of committing a war crime. The Russian Defense Ministry said the killing of unarmed, surrendered soldiers was a “widespread practice” for Kiev’s troops. The Kremlin has vowed to do everything possible to bring the perpetrators behind the massacre to justice.
In one of the videos, the Russian servicemen were shown surrendering to Kiev troops and lying down on the ground, before a second clip showed their bodies lying motionless in pools of blood, apparently dead from gunshots to the head.
Another clip, which is also believed to have been filmed at the scene, purportedly shows one Russian soldier who refused to surrender and opened fire at the Ukrainians. Kiev claimed that the Russian soldiers committed “perfidy” and only imitated a surrender, and as such their execution was justified.