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Ukrainian soldiers, including the defenders of Mariupol, returned with a prisoner exchange

origin 1A group of Russian soldiers sit on a bus after being released in a bilateral prisoner exchange ©AP/Russian Defense Ministry Press Service

Moscow and Kiev carried out a prisoner exchange with both sides handing over 60 people on Armed Forces Day of Ukraine on Tuesday.

58 men and two women were repatriated to Ukraine, including 15 officers, 45 soldiers and sergeants.

According to the head of the presidential administration, Andriy Yermak, some defenders of Mariupol were included.

“Today’s ’60 list’ includes 34, including 14 from ‘Azovstal’,” he wrote on his Telegram account.

Ukraine’s top diplomat called on Kiev’s western partners to step up military aid following the latest round of targeted Russian attacks the previous day. Dmytro Kuleba said in a briefing that Ukraine urgently needs more air defense systems.

“Today, it is especially important to help Ukraine defend itself against Russian missile attacks,” he said.

“There is no need to make excuses and postpone key decisions. It’s time to close the sky over Ukraine, do it with the help of air defense systems, which should come to Ukraine in sufficient quantities,” he added.

The minister singled out Germany in its calls for Western allies to supply more weapons and paid tribute to Ukraine’s war heroes.

He thanked Berlin for transferring seven more Gepard anti-aircraft guns to help Ukraine protect its skies.

“I am grateful to all partner states for their support and understanding that significantly strengthening Ukraine’s defense potential is the only way to establish long-term peace and stability in Europe.”

Meanwhile, authorities in Russian-controlled Donetsk said six civilians were killed and at least ten injured in Ukrainian attacks.

One of the victims was a deputy of parliament from the Russian-controlled area, 29-year-old Maria Pirogova, the head of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic Denis Pushilin wrote in Telegram.

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