Long lines of traffic were seen on some land borders of Russia

The wives of some of the Ukrainian fighters released by Russia in a prisoner exchange for CNN described the disbelief and joy upon hearing their loved ones were released.

Alina Volovik, who spoke with CNN via WhatsApp, described receiving a phone call from a man she did not initially recognize as her husband, Artem Volovik, a Ukrainian marine who fought at the Azovstal steel plant earlier this year, before the capture of Mariupol. fully. by Russian forces.

“At first, I did not understand what was happening and where it was,” recalls Alina Volovik. “But he said: My dear, I am already in Ukraine! There was a barter.
“I just started screaming, and my hands were trembling,” she said. “Now I am the happiest woman in the world.”

On Wednesday, Russia released 215 people from its custody, including some foreigners who were fighting for Ukraine. In return, Ukraine released 55 people, as well as Viktor Medvedchuk, a pro-Russian oligarch politician and oligarch, whose daughter was the granddaughter of Vladimir Putin.

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky said overnight that of the 215 people released by Russia were “188 heroes of Azovstal and Mariupol”.

The release of Azovstal and Mariupol fighters is a major upheaval for Ukrainian morale, given the significant role the defense of Mariupol played in the Ukrainian psyche early in the war.

This is the largest single release of fighters from Mariupol. In a prisoner exchange in June, Russia released 144 soldiers, including 95 who defended the Azovstal plant.

Ruslana Volynska, whose husband was Serhiy “Volina” Volynsky, who was the acting commander of the 36th Separate Marine Brigade, told CNN via text message that she learned of the swap online.

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“Later, Sarhi called himself, and I heard him. It was joy, shock and boundless happiness! All feelings were mixed! I cried happily and couldn’t believe this day had come.”

Adviser to the Ukrainian mayor of Mariupol, Petro Andryushenko, who was forced to leave his city as Russia advanced, said on Telegram that Mariupol “rejoices at the return of its heroes to Ukrainian lands. Even in occupation!”

“I still can’t believe it,” Alina Volovik told CNN. “It seems to me that this is a dream and I will wake up soon. I could not sleep until five in the morning, because I was overwhelmed with feelings.”

“Only two hours ago, when I was shopping, I realized my husband was home and started crying. The only thing I want right now is to cuddle him ASAP,” she added.

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