Russia and Ukraine say they’ve exchanged captured troopers – the primary trade because the crash of a Russian airplane that Moscow mentioned had 65 Ukrainian prisoners of battle (PoW) on board.

The Russian navy says all sides acquired 195 troopers on Wednesday.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky says 207 Ukrainian troopers have been returned.

Kiev is questioning Moscow's claims that Ukrainian prisoners of battle had been on the airplane that went down final week.

Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed on Wednesday that the Il-76 navy transport airplane had been shot down by Ukraine within the western area of Belgorod utilizing a US Patriot system. He gave no proof.

The Russian navy had beforehand mentioned dozens of Ukrainian troopers had been on the airplane, which was headed to the realm for a prisoner trade. He mentioned six Russian crew members and three escort officers had been additionally on board, including that there have been no survivors.

Russia has but to supply any exhausting proof of its claims and officers there have an extended and confirmed historical past of lies and disinformation.

Kiev has in a roundabout way denied the Russian claims, however says nothing has been confirmed.

Final week, a spokesman for navy intelligence in Kiev advised the BBC that it “doesn’t rule out” the chance that PoWs had been on board the Il-76 plane.

Different official statements converse of Ukraine's proper to defend itself towards Russian missiles, significantly these fired from Belgorod, close to the Ukrainian border.

However many in Ukraine are questioning why Russia didn’t present photographs of dozens of useless our bodies after the airplane crash to again up its claims.

Not one of the particulars have been independently verified and either side have referred to as for a world investigation.

Wednesday's trade is the fiftieth PoW trade since President Putin launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

In a short assertion, the Russian protection ministry mentioned the trade was accomplished after negotiations.

“The launched navy personnel can be transported by a navy transport plane … to Moscow for therapy and rehabilitation,” he mentioned.

“All these launched are supplied with the required medical and psychological help,” the assertion mentioned.

Pictures launched by the ministry allegedly present these Russian troopers being exchanged on a bus earlier than their flight to Moscow.

In the meantime, President Zelensky wrote in a submit on social media: “Our folks have returned. 207 of them. We’re returning residence, it doesn’t matter what.

“We bear in mind each Ukrainian in captivity. Each fighters and civilians. We are going to return all of them,” he mentioned, thanking Ukraine's high safety officers for making the final attainable trade.

Movies shot by Ukrainian authorities present the freed PoWs spilling out of the bus, with large smiles and shouts of “Glory to Ukraine!” A soldier falls to the bottom, rolling within the snow, so pleased to be again.

The lads put on Russian jail uniforms, their heads are shaved and lots of look skinny after their time in captivity.

Some are in tears, speaking to kin on the cellphone. On the finish of the video, everybody stands, wrapped within the blue and yellow nationwide flags of Ukraine, and sings the nation's anthem.

The trade was stored secret till it occurred, for safety causes. Ukraine confirms that the United Arab Emirates was concerned as a mediator, because it was earlier this month, however we have no idea particulars in regards to the negotiations.

Ukraine's coordination middle for prisoners of battle mentioned that amongst these launched had been members of the Nationwide Guard, border guards and a police officer.

Ukraine has mentioned that not one of the 65 males who had been to be launched final week, and who Russia says had been killed, are among the many final to be traded.

Nevertheless, a spokesman for Ukrainian navy intelligence advised the BBC that a few of the different troopers who returned on Wednesday had been to be exchanged within the newest trade.

The BBC spoke to pals and kin of the 65 who will not be counted. They don't need to remark publicly, however insist there isn’t any proof of something at this level – and so they stay hopeful.

“In fact we’re fearful,” mentioned a pal of a prisoner. “However there isn’t any data, no proof.”

There are additionally hundreds of Ukrainian prisoners being held in Russia.

Their households often haven’t any contact with them, and might know nothing of the lads's destiny till they’re instantly launched in a prisoner trade.

A lady, Tetyana, whose son was captured within the southeastern Ukrainian metropolis of Mariupol in 2022, advised the BBC that she had not heard from her son straight since then.

The final affirmation that he was nonetheless alive was greater than a 12 months in the past, when a prisoner who was launched confirmed that that they had shared a cell.

Tetyana described the agony of dwelling with such uncertainty and having to persuade herself day-after-day that her son was nonetheless alive.

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