Ukraine seeks new mediators to bring Mariupol heroes home

Mariupol defender Dmytro Kozatskyi's photo on April 16, 2022 at the Azovstal plant
Mariupol defender Dmytro Kozatskyi's photo on April 16, 2022 at the Azovstal plant

Ukraine is seeking new intermediaries to help secure the return of all defenders of Mariupol, the Ukrainian Ombudsman Dmytro Lubinets said on national television on May 23.

Negotiations with Russia on a prisoner exchange are ongoing.

The lack of exchanges might be due to changes in Russia's leadership structures, but communication continues, Lubinets said.

Ukraine is looking for intermediaries who can further influence Russia's position regarding all defenders of Mariupol, he said.

"There is a specific attitude from the Russians towards Mariupol defenders, and a new trend has emerged," Lubinets said.

Read also: Russians destroyed half of Mariupol, 52.000 families homeless — city mayor

"Russians are transporting Ukrainian defenders to separate penal institutions in Russia and then selecting Mariupol defenders among the prisoners of war for public trials. We are looking for new intermediaries to help return all prisoners of war and civilian hostages, including the Mariupol defenders."

The Mariupol City Council reported on May 20 that over 1,900 Ukrainian soldiers who defended Mariupol have been in Russian captivity for two years.

Over 900 of these soldiers are from the Azov Battalion, said Denys “Redis” Prokopenko, Lt. Colonel Commander of the 12th Azov Special Brigade of the Ukrainian National Guard.

May 20 marked the second anniversary of the end of Mariupol's heroic defense. At that time, the city's defenders finally left the Azovstal plant, the last stronghold of the city's defense.

The units that defended Mariupol for 86 days included fighters from the Azov Special Operations Detachment, the 12th Operational Brigade of the Ukrainian National Guard, the 36th Separate Marine Brigade, members of other Ukrainian Armed Forces units, as well as border guards, police officers, SBU security service members, HUR military intelligence officers, and territorial defense fighters.

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Read the original article on The New Voice of Ukraine