Russia and Ukraine swapped prisoners on Saturday in the third such exchange since the war began on Feb. 24, The Times of Israel reported.
"On the order of President [Volodymyr] Zelensky, the third prisoner exchange took place today. 12 of our servicemen are returning home, including one female officer," Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said on Telegram.
Russian Human Rights Commissioner Tatiana Moskalkova confirmed the exchange on Sunday, Reuters reports. Per the Times of Israel, Moskalkova said that among the Russian nationals who returned home on Saturday were 14 sailors who had been held at the port of Mariupol, several soldiers, and four employees of Russia's Rosatom State Nuclear Energy Corporation.
This exchange comes as Ukrainian forces brace for a major Russian offensive in eastern Ukraine. "Yes, [Russian] forces are gathering in the east," Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Saturday. ""This will be a hard battle. We believe in this fight and our victory."
Video released last week and reported on by The Guardian appeared to show Ukrainian soldiers killing captured Russian troops. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said the incident would "definitely be investigated."